My opinion about Practitioner / Client relationships.
At the time I worked for “De Sociale Dienst” (Social Service) in Amsterdam I learned from my boss not to take presents from clients. Just in order to keep those relationships clear. Because it was always possible that a client could take an unfair advantage.
A simple example:
A client is very pleased with the help he got and gives presents to the person who helped him/her. The employee takes these gifts. Next time the same clients comes back to the same employee with a difficult question. To that question the employee has to say “no”. But maybe because he got the presents he takes a risk for that client and says yes to it. Or the client threatens the employee if he/she doesn’t do the things the client wants to be done.
Back to practitioner – client relationships,
For me it is really clear: I am the practitioner and my client is my client.
It is important to make clear boundaries: time wise, money wise, ethics.
Money wise, time wise: Before I start to work with a client it is important to make agreements about money and time for a session.
This will allow the work to proceed with better safety and effectiveness.
Some clients told me that they where worried about time and the money.
Time wise: being afraid that the time for a session isn’t enough.
I tell them that if I notice they are still in their process I give them some more time.
Money wise: clients think they have to come every week for a session.
Telling them that that is not necessary takes also away some worries.
In the “short” period I am working as a rebirthing practitioner I have already experienced that being clear about money and time takes away a lot of pressure and is effective in their session.
My clients know that if they cancel within 24 hours (or forget to come to a session) they pay me the rent for the room I rent. They don’t have to pay the session.
With my rebirthing trainer, Peter DeLong (www.clarity.org), I had a discussion about this.
Peter: what would you do if you forget an appointment with your client?
Me: I would give the client a free session.
Peter: and why do you say to your client that say don’ t have to pay for the session if they have to cancel or forget a session? Is your time not worthwhile?
Me: at the moment I don’ t have so many clients, if I would have many clients (they really want me) I will let them pay for if they don’ t cancel (in time).
Peter: does it matter for you the amount of clients? Does that make any difference time wise?
Me: Yes, for me it feels like that. It feels good for me, at this moment. And of course my time is also important for me.
Peter: Well if your time is also important to you why don’t you let them pay for the session?
Peter gave me something to think about. But as I wrote before: now it feels good to me to tell my clients they only have to pay for the room I rent. That’s also making a clear boundary to myself.
About telephone support:
I say to my clients that they always can call me if they have questions after a session. Because I don’t have the experience yet that clients call me for support I don’ t know how to deal money wise with such kind of support. So I don’t ask money yet for support by phone. Also something to think more about!
Ethics (getting presents, sexual advances, family)
My boundary is: I will not take presents from my clients because I never know in what kind of situation a client can put me.
And it is also a deep inside feeling of me not to take presents (whatever in which form). I don’t want to take the risk a clients abuses me from something because I took once a present from that client.
I also realize that it is good to think a little bit more deeply about getting presents:
What kind of present? What is the situation? How well do I know the client?
I once got a drawing from a client. It was her way showing me how she felt at the moment and I could use it in the next session. There are presents and presents. I say: listen to yourself, how does it feel, what the situation, what is the present. I really trust my intuition in this if it doesn’t feel ok to take a present. But in fact my statement is: no presents.
Another example where I took the present: As I started as a breath worker I was lucky that some friends of mine where willing to do some sessions with me. A friend of mine was so pleased with her big transformation, after the sessions she did, that she bought me flowers. Her way of saying “thank you”. I said to her that in fact I didn’t want to take these flowers and explained why. The fact I explained to her why I usually don’t take presents and also that a next time I wouldn’t take the flowers, made it possible to take the flowers. Because I told her about my boundary.
I learned from this situation to “play” a little with presents.
Ethics about love/sexual advances:
During sessions clients open up their heart, become emotional, can feel deep love. It could be that all these feeling are unfamiliar to them. This is a reason that it is possible clients transfer these feelings to the practitioner. I can imagine that this can happen.
As a practitioner I have to be clear to myself that these feelings belong to the client and all kind of romantic or sexual advances towards me is misguided. In such a case I have to be clear to my client that I am the practitioner, no more and no less. And I also want to avoid any abuses on this level.
What if I fall in love with a client? In that case I will tell the client that I can’t go further with the sessions. For me as practitioner there is a huge boundary: no advances to my client, be clear if a client shows advances to me. It is not done!
Working with family:
I don’ t work with family because of the fact that issues can cross over. How can I help a member of the family when in a session a topic about me shows up? It would be impossible for me to stay open minded.
Well reading over this article: I think I am clear in my boundaries, there are some points to think about on a deeper level and it is ok to be a little “playful”. And also my intuition will help me in discovering more about my boundaries.
Frank Mannens, July 2005.
Published in issue 101 of BREATHE magazine, September 2005