Professional boundaries



Professional boundaries are an important consideration in the relationship between any
professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who works in a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and ski ...
and their client.

Nurse-client boundaries

Boundaries are an integral part of the nurse-client relationship. They represent invisible structures imposed by legal,
ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns m ...
, and professional standards of nursing that respect the rights of nurses and clients.Arnold, E., & Underman-Boggs, K. (2011). Interpersonal Relationships: Professional Communication Skills for Nurses (sixth edition). St.Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders These boundaries ensure that the focus of the relationship remains on the client's needs, not only by word but also by law. The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Standards identifies that it is the nurse's responsibility to establish the boundaries and limits of the relationship between the nurse and client.Therapeutic Nurse-Client Relationship, Revised 2006. (1 March 1999). 1 June 2009, Retrieved from The boundaries have a specific purpose and health goal, and the relationship terminates when identified goal is met. Any action or behaviour in a nurse-client relationship that personally benefits the nurse at the expense of the client is a boundary violation. Some examples of boundary violations are engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with a current client, extensive non-beneficial disclosure to the client and receiving a gift of money from the client.
Abuse Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of a thing, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, assault, violation, rape, unjust practices, crimes, or other t ...
neglect In the context of caregiving, neglect is a form of abuse where the perpetrator, who is responsible for caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves, fails to do so. It can be a result of carelessness, indifference, or unwillingness and ...
are extreme examples. They involve the betrayal of
respect Respect, also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important or held in high esteem or regard. It conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities. It is also the process of ...
and trust within the relationship. This includes withholding communication from a client because it is considered to be an example of neglect.College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. (2012) Professional boundaries and the nurse-client relationship: keeping it safe and therapeutic: guidelines for registered nurses. Retrieved from It is the nurse's job to be aware of signs that professional boundaries may be crossed or have been crossed. Warning signs of boundary crossing that may lead to boundary violations include frequently thinking of a client in a personal way, keeping secrets with a specific client, favouring one client's care at the expense of another's and telling a client personal things about yourself in order to make an impression. Anything that could comprise the client's well-being if the relationship with a registered nurse is continued or discontinued can be considered a warning sign. Boundary violations are never acceptable and it is the nurse's job to handle any situation with any regards to it professionally and therapeutically regardless of who initiated it.

Clinical mental health counseling

There are multiple boundaries that could be crossed between a client and a counselor, including physical, psychological, emotional, and social boundaries. Some of these boundary lines may be blurry. For example, there are differing opinions on whether touch is ever appropriate between a counselor and their client. Sexual intercourse, however, is uniformly agreed upon as inappropriate. Dual relationships, where a counselor holds two or more different roles within a client's life at the same time, are also typically avoided, as well as the acceptance of gifts of significant monetary value.Gerig, M. S. (2014). ''Foundations for clinical mental health counseling: An introduction to the profession'' (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Inc.

See also

Profession A profession is a field of work that has been successfully '' professionalized''. It can be defined as a disciplined group of individuals, ''professionals'', who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by ...
Professional abuse Professional abuse is "a pattern of conduct in which a person abuses, violates, or takes advantage of a victim within the context of the abuser's profession." This typically involves a violation of the relevant professional organization's code of e ...
* Professional conduct *
Professional ethics Professional ethics encompass the personal and corporate standards of behavior expected of professionals. The word professionalism originally applied to vows of a religious order. By no later than the year 1675, the term had seen secular appli ...
Personal boundaries Personal boundaries or the act of'' setting boundaries'' is a life skill that has been popularized by self help authors and support groups since the mid 1980s. It is the practice of openly communicating and asserting personal values as way to p ...
* Sexual misconduct


{{Reflist Environmental psychology Nonverbal communication Interpersonal relationships Boundaries