By: Sarah Evans
Many people struggle with setting boundaries. They don't know when and how to say no in an appropriate way. This is an often overlooked issue for people with disabilities.Boundaries mean different things to different people. I once heard them described as being where one person ends and another begins. I have also heard boundaries being compared to fences. They enable people to say yes to some things and no to other things.
I have noticed that one common boundary issue for people with disabilities is mistakenly believing that the professionals they work with are their friends. They may think this because they spend a lot of time with these people and they lack opportunities to develop friendships with their peers. Knowing this, professionals may (intentionally or unintentionally) feel bad for their clients and be afraid of hurting their feelings if they were to set boundaries. Therefore, they may find it difficult to set appropriate boundaries with their clients or correct wrong assumptions about the nature of these relationships.It is important for professionals to be direct and forthcoming with their clients. These types of relationships usually only last for a relatively short period of time. The best thing professionals can do is prepare their clients for the future, including future relationships (professional and otherwise). As well, setting appropriate boundaries models and teaches clients to set healthy boundaries of their own, which will ultimately help them to value themselves and their feelings in relationships.
Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics
JKP Blog Interview with Frank Cooper, Author of Professional Boundaries in Social Work and Social Care