First, here’s some science about why boundaries are helpful:
Our first experiences of boundaries were when we were babies. Our carergivers showed us what they could and could not help us with and what we were allowed to do. If our parents were ‘good enough’ they initially met all of our needs then slowly changed the boundaries over time.
We feel safest when we know what to expect from other people and what we need to manage for ourselves.
If someone occassionally meets our needs we will keep trying to get them to help until they do again. This can prevent us from learning alternative ways of getting those needs met.
When people step outside of their role (e.g. Case Manager or carer) it can make the client anxious about the nature of the relationship as they no longer know what to expect nor what is expected of them.
OK, but how do you know if you or your colleagues need some help with managing their boundaries?
Often responding to emails outside of working hours
Feeling as if a client wants more than you have to give
Being unable to protect time for self/family/friends
Taking time off sick with stress
Visiting clients on days off
Feeling anxious about how clients will react to being unavailable
Clients expecting you to step outside of role
Being unable to say ‘no’
Avoiding contact with the client
Unrealistic expectations from clients and/ or their family