Boundaries of Therapy

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Boundaries of Therapy

    In addition, I want to emphasize that the relationship of therapy is a business relationship. Therefore there are important boundaries that must be maintained between you and your therapist for safety reasons, because therapy does become intimate. First, understand that you develop an intimate relationship with your therapist. This is natural, because for therapy to work, your therapist has to care about you. I won't work with any client that I do not develop caring feelings towards. This is because I also make commitments to all of my clients to give them the best of my skills. If I don't care about you, I won't be able to collaborate in a strong team with you. So, I will form an emotional bond with you. But, there are boundaries that we need to maintain for the sake of a safe business relationship. They are as follows:

bulletThe Therapy Hour: When we contract for business, you are paying for my time and service. We agree to meet for the time of your appointment. You pay for my time. Therefore, if you do not show up for the therapy hour or cannot make it, you are responsible for payment of my time, unless we make other arrangements. The therapy hour is yours and is what you pay for. It starts at a specific time and ends at a specific time. You cannot stay longer or come late and expect for me to accommodate the appointment because it will interfere in other people's appointments. It is important that you understand this up front. If your session is scheduled on Friday from 3:00 - 3:50. This is when the session will be, whether you are there or not. This is why it is important for you to commit to attending therapy each session and to be on time. In return, I also am making the same commitment to you.
bulletAdvice: Therapy is a process of exploration. It is unethical for a therapist to give you advice about what to do in your life. Therapy is about helping you come up with your own solutions. Practical suggestions about coping skills or referrals are provided in therapy.
bulletGifts: Gift giving and receiving in therapy is discouraged overall. There are exceptions to this but in general, it is considered unethical for a therapist to accept gifts from a client.
bulletBringing Friends and Family: If you want to bring another person to your therapy session, it is better that we discuss this ahead of time. Please do not bring another person with you to therapy without discussing it with me first. Clients often want their friends and family to meet their therapist. They may want to share the experience or have the therapist see their friends or other family members. But, this can interfere in your own therapy process without you knowing it or realizing it initially. Therefore it is important that we discuss this before it happens.
bulletBringing Your Children: If you have children and I am seeing you for therapy, please do not bring your child unless we have made arrangements to do this for therapeutic reasons.
bulletParents: If you are sending your child to therapy, I will require your participation in therapy if I deem it appropriate. I may also require you to make adjustments in your management of child rearing in order to assist your child. Often I find that in order to help a child,  I need to work with an entire family. This is important for you to know up front.
bulletParents Paying for Therapy of a Child: By law, you have the right to know what treatment I am providing to your child and what is happening in your child's therapy. However, this law can impair your child's treatment, therefore, I will ask a parent to respect your child's confidentiality. Sometimes children need to feel that they can tell something to their therapist that won't be told back to their parents and this is the only way that therapy will be successful. Know that if there is something that is happening in your child's life that is dangerous, I will inform you. Safety is always a priority.
bulletBartering for Services: The only form of payment for services can be monetary. It is illegal for a therapist to accept payment for therapy with professional or personal services. Also, a therapist is not allowed to accept any professional or personal services from clients.
bulletProblems Paying for Therapy: If for some reason you are unable to pay for therapy, please let me know ahead of time so arrangements can be made. See the section on Payment for Therapy for more information.
bulletPhone Services: Phone calls for crisis situations are permitted. If I need to come to you, I am willing to ONLY for serious psychological crises, but this is rare. I will determine whether or not I need to come to you. However, it is important to know that I do not come out for suicide attempts. I expect you to contact me if you are feeling suicidal BEFORE making any acts of hurting yourself. This is a part of your commitment to therapy that you agree to before we work together. I will talk with you on the phone, but I won't go out to you. I can contact paramedics for you if you have done something to harm yourself, but I expect all of my clients to agree to not harm themselves while in therapy. You are coming to therapy for help. Attempting suicide sets up a dangerous dynamic between a therapist and client, and I will not allow therapy to continue if this dynamic gets set up. It is too dangerous for you. It is important for you to know what to do for yourself if you feel suicidal.  I will help you with these skills if necessary, but as an agreement of therapy, you in turn are committing to keep yourself safe and doing what is necessary to keep yourself safe.  Also be aware that there may be a charge for telephone sessions.
bulletHealthcare Providers: If you are seeing a psychiatrist or other medical provider, please let me know. Also, please do not stop taking psychiatric medication without talking with me and your doctor.
bulletMedical Conditions: Please let me know if you have any medical conditions. It is important to your therapy.
bulletReferrals: If I give you a referral, know that I am giving you a referral to a person or business that I think is good and may  help you. You may not have this experience of the referral. Please let me know if you are dissatisfied with a referral for any reason so that I can be sure I am providing referrals that my clients get good services from.
bulletChemical Use You must come to therapy sober. You cannot come to therapy after using drugs or alcohol. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, I will require you to agree not to use any kind of drug or alcohol a minimum of 24 hours before your therapy appointment. If you violate this, I will not see you for that session, but you will still be responsible for payment of the hour.
bulletHome Office: If I am seeing you at my home office understand that I use a home office to help keep the costs of my business down, so that I can offer therapy that my clients can afford. In order for me to be able to do this, I have to have some boundaries for this office space: (if this part doesn't appear on your browser, click on "Home Office" to view the information)
bulletI do not have a waiting room. You will be coming directly to the therapy room. Please do not bring anyone else with you because there is no place for them to wait for you. If people drive you to your appointment, they will have to wait outside. I can also recommend a nice coffee shop for them to go while you are in therapy if necessary.
bullet Boundaries of Therapy, Safety in Therapy, therapy and alternative families, Los Angeles, CaliforniaI cannot allow the use of the restroom in my home office. The reason for this is to protect the professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. It is important that you do not see my living quarters for therapeutic reasons. Please use the restroom before coming to therapy.  
bulletPlease do not come to my home when it isn't your therapy time.
bulletPlease don't try to see other parts of my home. Please don't go to the backyard. Again, this is for safety reasons to preserve our business relationship. It isn't meant to be unwelcoming. It is meant to preserve an important therapeutic relationship. Knowing about my private life interferes in our business relationship and my ability to treat you effectively as a therapist.
bulletTherapy Equipment: If you are like me, you like to keep a little bit of your therapist with you. Please don't take items from the therapy office. I have items that I can give you for this very reason. Ask me about it!
bulletTouching: Physical boundaries are important. Therapy does not include physical contact, for safety reasons. If you want a hug, please ask for it. Handshakes are fine. I may put my hand on your shoulder, but I will ask your permission first.
bulletPersonal Relationships: I cannot have any kind of social relationship with you and be your therapist. I cannot go out to lunch with you, to the movies, etc. It is  a violation of my professional ethics. According to the law, a therapist may not spend time with a client as a friend for a minimum of 2 years after the termination of therapy.
bullet Therapy never includes sex. This I want to state upfront. If you have been in therapy before and have had sex with your therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist, there is a huge problem. I can help you understand what your rights and options are. Click this link for more information.
bulletLegal Advice: I cannot give you legal advice.
bulletTestifying in Court: I don't testify in court. If you need a therapist for court purposes, there are therapists whose job it is to act as witnesses on behalf of the client. These therapists can be provided through your attorney.
bulletCourt Referrals: I cannot provide information to the court. If you are mandated by the courts for therapeutic treatment, you must use the court recommended programs. Independent therapists cannot provide these services.
bulletNo Secrets Policy: In family or couples therapy, I will always have a "no secrets" policy. That means that whatever is said by one member in therapy, all members need to be made aware of the information. The exception to this is if there are things that are happening that impact someone's safety. Child abuse, domestic violence and other violence in a relationship cannot be treated jointly, for safety reasons. I can only treat one member and offer you referrals for other parties to deal with these issues.


bulletWeapons: Please do not bring any weapons to therapy, even if they are a part of your business uniform.

bulletSafety Rules: (if this part doesn't appear on your browser, click on "Safety Rules" to view the information)
bulletIf you become very angry, you can take a timeout in therapy. Verbalization of your anger is encouraged.
bulletVerbal abuse won't be tolerated, use "I feel" statements instead. I can teach you this technique.
bulletIntimidating or aggressive behavior won't be tolerated towards myself or another person in therapy.
bulletIf I am concerned that a session is becoming too heated, I may ask one party to leave the therapy room to cool off. I expect compliance with this for safety reasons. If this rule is not adhered to, I may be unable to work with you.
bulletYou may not deliberately break things or throw things in the therapy room. No form of aggressive behavior will be tolerated. Instead, verbalization of your concerns is encouraged.
bulletIf you become unsafe, I will contact a hospital or police.
bulletIf you are feeling suicidal, please tell me at the beginning of the therapy session or call me. Acting on suicidal feelings can result in the termination of the therapeutic relationship. I can always work with your feelings, but the behavior itself will harm the therapeutic relationship. It is both of our responsibilities to be safe towards each other.
bulletVerbal threats of any kind will be reported to the police. If you threaten me or another person, it is my legal obligation to inform them and the police. This also goes for any business establishment.

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