Boundary Crossing in Psychology

Boundary Crossing

All medical practitioners, including psychologists, are held with respect and high esteem by the society. They serve a critical role in alleviating physical and emotional pain. They are required to carry out their work with a sense of commitment and ensuring they uphold the values and professional ethics. Therefore, the relationship between a psychologist or physician and the client should remain professional and consistent (Newman, 2007). Social relationships and given levels of interactions are complicated for psychologists and their clients. For them to provide quality service and ensure integrity, they are usually required to ensure that their relationship and engagement remain professional (Doverspike, 2008). However, at times the practitioners cross the professional boundary and find themselves relating to their clients at different levels of engagements.

Boundary crossing issues occur when the client and the psychologist deviate from the accepted psychological boundaries that separate them. The relationship between a psychologist and a client is usually for therapeutic purposes, and if it goes beyond that, then it becomes a boundary violation. During the therapeutic period, which is usually long, there are confidentiality issues, which are discussed, and there are high chances of developing emotional bonds (Pope and Keith, 2008). However, it is important for the psychologist or the physician to avoid such cases and keep the relationship professional.

Jane, a client had some psychological issues and went to seek the services of a psychologist. However, through the program, she became attached to her psychologist. One evening after her session was over, she invited her psychologist to her house so that they could have dinner together, but given the professional boundary, the psychologist politely declined the invite stating that he wanted to get home early and spend time with his family. Later that week, a tournament was organized in the community center and required people to participate in pairs. Surprisingly, the psychologist was paired with his client who was not aware whether her psychologist was participating. Indeed, the psychologist desired to win this contest, but the challenge was that he was put on the same team with his client.

Additionally, the psychologist was aware of his partner’s weaknesses and was almost sure that they would not win. He wondered in his mind whether he should quit. However, he went ahead and took part in the tournament together with his client. Indeed, they won the tournament, which somehow changed the perception of the psychologist towards Jane. The psychologist believed that Jane had overcome her issues. In this case, the psychologist and his client had already had a double relationship, which affected the professional engagement they had initially (Behnke, 2008). Under those premises, the psychologist had crossed the boundary by having a relationship with his client outside the office.

The psychologist, however, could have avoided crossing the boundary by quitting the tournament once he realized that his client was a participant in the same event. In addition, it was not desirable for him to participate in the event as a team with his client since this altered their professional relationship. The psychologist could have informed the organizers about the underlying reasons for quitting and explain the same to his client. The engagement they had during the event, especially after winning made the psychologist view Jane as a different person thus making it hard for him to take her through the full psychological session (Behnke, 2008). As a rule, it is important for the client and the psychologist to maintain a professional relationship to achieve the desired results and avoid such scenarios.

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