Managing Boundaries in the Helping Process
Managing boundaries is an everyday reality faced by human service professionals, particularly those who live and practice in small communities. Helpers who work in rural communities may have greater challenges in dealing with multiple relationships than those who work in urban areas.
A human service professional discovers that all of her bank accounts are at the local bank where a client works as a teller. This client has access to the human service professional’s financial information and may be able to ascertain who the human service professional’s other clients are in town when checks are deposited.
A human service professional sees one of his clients at the local grocery store. The client is with one or more other persons. The human service professional, who is mindful of confidentiality, must decide how to respond. If he doesn’t acknowledge the client, will the client feel snubbed? On the other hand, what if the human service professional approaches the client to say hello and the client doesn’t want others to know that he or she is working with the human service professional?
A human service professional has been invited to a dinner party hosted by a friend. She is not aware of the fact that the friend’s son is dating one of her new clients, who also attends the party. Upon seeing her client at her friend’s party, the human service professional must decide how to respond. This scenario can be taken in a number of directions. For example, what if the client has concerns with the human service professional’s friend because the son constantly complains about him/her? What if the client identifies as being gay and is romantically involved with the friend’s son, but his parent (the human service professional’s friend) does not know that he is gay?
A former client wants to become “friends” with you on social media. You understand the importance of ethical practice and attempt to avoid blurred boundaries, dual relationships, breaks in confidentiality, and privacy issues. You mistakenly add this former client to your “friends” list and are unsure how to proceed.
For this assignment you will discuss each scenario in terms of managing the boundaries of the helping process.
Please be sure to address all of the following in your assignment:
- Discuss the importance of following ethical guidelines in human service practice.
- You may want to review the NOHS Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals.
- For each of the four scenarios above:
- Identify the ethical problem.
- List the NOHS Ethical Standard that aligns with the ethical problem.
- Develop a strategy to resolve the ethical problem.
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