Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries

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Maintaining a solid boundary means recognizing that you and the person you are helping are two separate individuals with different needs, emotions, and abilities. Caregivers often choose their careers because they have a great deal of empathy for people in pain. This is often a positive quality. However, it can also be a quality that leads some people to blur the boundary between the professional and the personal. Behavior that could be classified as blurring the boundaries between professional and personal includes disclosing personal stories as a way to relate to a person you’re working with, taking on responsibilities for someone you are working with outside of a professional setting, talking about work-related matters outside of work, and talking about personal matters at work. A good way to expend the excess energy you might feel from working with certain individuals is to debrief with a supervisor. Not only is it the appropriate forum for you to discuss your work experiences, it also will keep your supervisor up to date about the people you are working with. Your supervisor will then be in a much better position to give you guidance in the future should the need arise.

Maintain boundaries no matter how relevant your personal story may seem.

Blurring professional and personal boundaries often occurs when someone in your professional life is experiencing something you’ve dealt with in your personal life. It is quite natural to want to rescue the person from making the same mistakes you might have made in the past, but do not project your experience onto the situation at hand. Of course, with that limitation in mind, there is no reason not to draw on your own experiences for insight in helping the person you are currently dealing with. Just be sure to frame your perspective in a way that keeps explicit details of your personal experiences out of the conversation.

Click to open interactivity Don’t let conversations from your professional life dominate your personal life.

Don’t let conversations from your professional life dominate your personal life.

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Debriefing with a supervisor provides an appropriate forum for discussion.

Following a crisis situation, it is important to debrief with a supervisor. You can talk about how you felt during the crisis, the decision you made, and your reason for making the decision. You may have decided that the situation did not warrant a report. It is helpful to process this decision to make sure you didn’t miss something important. Your supervisor may disagree with your decision and want you to make a report. Your supervisor can assist you in feeling more confident in the overall outcome. Processing a crisis situation is a form of self-care which is critical if you are to do your job effectively. Remind yourself that you’ve done all you can and congratulate yourself on responding effectively. Following a stressful situation, take some time to do something relaxing and calming. The benefits will be very useful.