chapter  19
Holding Appropriate Boundaries
Pages 8

One of the greatest temptations we are faced with when working with clients with self-destructive behaviors is our desire to make ourselves a part of the safety contract (i.e., “Call me when you get the impulse to hurt yourself.”). In fact, this behavior is fully encouraged by the mental health community. Many formulaic safety contracts used by mental health agencies and private practitioners include “calling the therapist” as a part of the safety plan. However, I believe it is imperative that we don’t put ourselves into a safety contract. Clients should never perceive us to be their lifelines, as that would be an unrealistic, unfair, and unhealthy view of our role. It’s also a potential recipe for disaster. If we buy into this socially sanctioned idea and find ways to be available to our clients 24/7, we are inadvertently modeling poor boundaries and setting ourselves up for professional burnout. If our clients are not clear about the limits of our availability, we are setting them up to feel grave disappointment, rejection, and outrage when they call and we are not available.