February 27, 2013

Boundaries in the Workplace

From when I first started training as a social worker, all the way to now, I've always had a pull towards the importance of boundaries in my work, whether I mean in helping people with them, or working on them myself. As a social worker, boundaries are hugely important in so many ways. We work with people whose lives are in shambles sometimes and we can't own that in any major way, or we're screwed. We're asked to do more than we can handle and if we give in a little, again, we're screwed. We have an obligation to have an awareness of our boundaries, as well as our boundary issues, IMO.

I can't say the amount of times this has been a focus on my therapy with someone else, but for myself, it's an ongoing issue. Sometimes the boundary issues are very clear. Someone is rude and annoying and you set the boundary that you want them to retrain from speaking to you like that. Simple (haha, really?). Others are not so easy. For example, when someone is rude, they're rarely rude to just one person, right? So say I set my boundaries with this person, but my friend and co-worker, Fred, doesn't. My day after day, my friend is annoyed and offended by this person and who do they talk to about their annoyance? Their friend (me), of course. That is just simply a more difficult boundary to set, in my experience.

However, it must be done. Sigh.



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3 comments:

spldbch said...

When you think about boundaries as a social worker, you don't immediately think about boundaries with co-workers. However, you make a good point; they need to be established.

Social Worker Job Guide said...

Hi, Anti-Social Worker!

This line stuck with me: "For example, when someone is rude, they're rarely rude to just one person, right? So say I set my boundaries with this person, but my friend and co-worker, Fred, doesn't." This is one of those cornerstones of the therapeutic relationship, in that the way the client reacts with the therapist is the way s/he reacts to the world. I think your friend Fred (and I'm sure he's a great social worker!) is doing his client a disservice by not calling out rude behavior. That's probably one of the reasons the client is in therapy in the first place!

So, I'm with you---boundaries are IMPORTANT.

Kara T. said...

As a Freshman year Social Work major, I am already becoming aware to the boundaries needed in this profession. I know that Social Work is the major for me because I have an incredible amount of passion towards it, however that does not mean it will be easy. I am a very compassionate individual and I will need to learn boundaries and how to not make my client's problems, my problems. Your line "We work with people whose lives are in shambles sometimes and we can't own that in any major way, or we're screwed" makes so much sense to me. Yes we are working with people who need help, but we need to be careful to not let their personal issues seep through into our personal lives. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that this is the most difficult part of the profession. Nevertheless, I can't wait for the future.

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