How to set professional boundaries by being a social worker

How to set professional boundaries by being a social worker
How to set professional boundaries by being a social worker

It is essential to set professional limits when practicing the profession of social worker. This allows you to come to the aid of your clients and to ensure that the standards of your profession are respected. This profession is based on interpersonal interaction, and assumes that in order to have a functioning society, it is necessary to help people who are struggling with poverty, trauma, oppression, mental illness or others. disabilities. This profession usually involves constant interaction with each client, which is why it is imperative that you set professional boundaries.


Part 1 of 4: Establish Strict Rules to Improve Your Professional Effectiveness

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 1

Step 1. Tell your customers the number to call in the event of a problem

You must provide your various customers with a list of emergency telephone numbers. Otherwise, they'll be contacting you. Include the phone number for your office, after-hours answering service, emergency services, 24-hour call centers, and local community organizations.

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 2

Step 2. Do not provide your customers with any personal contact information

If you ask your customers to call you at any time and give them your own phone number, email or home address, you may not be demonstrating great professionalism. They might also stop trusting you if for some reason you don't pick up the phone or can't help them.

Always give them a work phone number and work email address, as well as your office address so that they can use those details to contact you

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 3

Step 3. Protect your personal information on social networks

Your customers may be tempted to send you friend requests on Facebook or other social networking sites. However, if you interact with them through social media, they might break your professional boundaries.

  • Make sure your settings on Facebook and other social networks are set as private or only accessible to people you follow. If one of your clients can access your personal information over the Internet, this can create a conflict of interest.
  • Likewise, do not surf the Internet looking for private information or information that does not relate to work done with this client.
Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 4

Step 4. Ensure the confidentiality of customer personal information

It is imperative not to divulge any detail of your clients' stories outside of any professional context. Don't give out information about them to your friends or family at a social gathering.

  • If you are disclosing confidential information about your customers, they must have signed a valid consent form authorizing you to do so.
  • If you are going to discuss confidential information with a supervisor or co-workers, you should do so in private. Do not talk about it in hallways, stairs or other public places.

Part 2 of 4: Demonstrate professional and interpersonal behavior

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 5

Step 1. Establish clear physical boundaries

One of the most effective ways to set clearly defined boundaries is to exhibit an exemplary attitude when meeting your clients. You should never touch them inappropriately.

  • Avoid hugging, hugging, or grabbing hands with your clients. Even if you think that through these actions you are showing them compassion or care, it can make them feel uncomfortable and they might think you are abusing them.
  • Evaluate yourself and determine if your clients might even be psychologically harmed by your touching. If so, avoid all physical contact.
  • In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to give a client a hug. For example, if a client asks you to give them a hug during your last interview, that would be appropriate. If your clients are seniors or children, you can give them a hug and hold their hand once in a while.
Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 6

Step 2. Dress appropriately

Your dress style also communicates your professional boundaries to your clients. Pants, blouses, blazers, knee-length skirts and mini dresses are usually appropriate clothing.

Do not wear low waisted or provocative clothing. This could make your customers very uncomfortable and they may think that you are trying to abuse them

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 7

Step 3. Use appropriate language

Don't swear words, even if your client uses that language often. Also, you shouldn't use derogatory terms (like slurs or racist comments), even if your customers often speak in a rather derogatory manner. You should always use appropriate language so your clients know that you are credible and professional.

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 8

Step 4. Don't talk about your privacy

You may feel the need to share your problems or personal difficulties with your customers, in order to get closer to them. However, they will benefit more from your professional expertise than from your personal life experiences.

If you share personal details of your life with your clients, they might not understand the nature of the relationship you have with them, and this can make them feel nervous

Part 3 of 4: avoid any dual relationship

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 9

Step 1. Watch out for conflicts of interest

By dual relationship is meant any relationship in which you interact with your clients in an environment different from that of professional work.

  • If you work in a small community, you may find your clients on a variety of occasions, such as church, school, or other social settings. Try to limit your contact with your customers. If you spend more time with them outside of the professional context, you risk breaking your professional boundaries.
  • For example, if you attend the same church as a client of yours, don't join the same volunteer committee or attend the same Bible study class as them.
  • If you come across a customer at the gym or the grocery store, try to limit all contact. Just try to be polite and be professional, but avoid socializing with him. You don't have to ignore it, but avoid engaging in social interaction, only if the customer is approaching you.
  • Likewise, do not render services to your clients outside the professional framework. Do not agree to take them somewhere or take care of their children. This can easily lead to a breach of professional boundaries.
Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 10

Step 2. Avoid having sex with your clients

Having intimate or sexual relationships with one of your current clients is unethical and inappropriate. Avoid having sex with a current or former client, and refuse to collaborate with a client with whom you have had intimate sex. If you do, you could lose your job or be taken to court. In addition, a former client with whom you have had sex may suffer because of your inside knowledge of her file.

  • Also, never have sex with family members or close friends of your clients. It can also put your customers and their treatment at risk.
  • If you notice that you are starting to have romantic feelings for a client, drop her file and refer her to another social worker.
Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 11

Step 3. Do not maintain financial relationships with your customers

You should never give money to your customers or accept money or gifts from them. Do not accept additional funds or gifts for things unrelated to your job.

Do not borrow or lend money to current or former customers. Such actions can easily confuse your client, and your relationship could be exploitative in nature

Part 4 of 4: Thrive outside the workplace

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 12

Step 1. Maintain your friendships outside of work

One of the most effective ways to set professional boundaries is to separate your work and social life.

Keep in touch with your old friends from high school, college or whom you met during your work visits. If you are new to a city, join volunteer groups, church groups, or internal sports teams to play sports such as soccer, basketball, running, and more

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 13

Step 2. Take part in activities that you are passionate about

If you enjoy reading, taking photos, singing in choirs, watching movies, and performing in plays, make these activities part of your social life.

Find a hobby that allows you to participate in regular weekly activities. If you often have something planned after work, it will help you stay within your limits while reducing stress in your daily life

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 14

Step 3. Leave the work at the office

Set clear boundaries for yourself when you're away from the office. Don't check your work emails and voicemails, and don't take work-related calls when you're home or on vacation.

You can still remain a great social worker without having to be available to your clients 24/7

Maintain Professional Boundaries in Social Work Step 15

Step 4. Consider seeing a therapist

Being a social worker can seriously damage your mental and physical health. So it's important to find someone you can talk to about your feelings. These therapy sessions can help you feel more balanced and avoid being distracted by your own issues when you are with your clients.

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