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Managing Internal Boundaries in Human Service

Posted On February 16, 2023 • No Comments

Burnout Alert!

Most of us are aware of the ideas behind Professional Boundaries. Ideas like avoiding conflict of interest, (when we stand to gain personally including family, friends, socially or financially from a decision made in the workplace). Or we might think about our conduct at work, (no inappropriate actions that can cause harm and or break the law).

Well, there is another important idea that relates to Professional Boundaries, and this idea relates to our emotional link to the people we work with.

It is quite common for people who have worked with others in human service to eventually face a time of burnout, or perhaps you’ve heard of compassion fatigue…

You might find yourself starting to think along the lines, when meeting a new client.

“I’ve seen this before”! or “I know what’s coming next”!

People can become jaded, cynical and see only the worst in others.

If you recognise what I’m saying within yourself, it could be helpful to be curious about, how did I get to this point?

In our hope to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of the people we work with many of us make the mistake of finding our self-worth and validation through the achievements of the people we work with.

However, the reality is that people inevitably will fail to meet our expectations, after all humans learn through both mistakes and achievements.

By embracing the truth that an individual’s choices and outcomes in life are theirs, not mine it becomes possible to separate our emotion link to a client’s life journey, and maintain an appropriate emotional distance, without compromising our sense of compassion for the people we work with.

So, a clear sign we need to reset our Internal boundaries with people we work with is found in thoughts of judgement, an attitude of being failed by the client, or even that they are doing this to hurt me….

When this happens, take a break, look for appropriate emotional distance and remember our clients achievements or challenges are theirs not mine.