Boundary Structure in Ethical Practice-Part 1

We can similarly make exceptions to general boundary rules as long as we do so with thoughtful consideration of what we are doing and why. Appropriate boundary crossings include such things as going for a walk with an anxious client to help him learn a new way to manage anxiety.

It may be helpful to make a house call to a client who can’t come to the office because he is recovering from a difficult surgery and needs some additional coaching with coping skills. Sometimes it’s useful to observe a family in vivo by doing a home visit.

Going to a milestone event can be an important validation of the work we’ve done – although I suggest that it’s usually not helpful to stay for the party.

Part Two will provide some basic guidelines for therapists to consider.

Path and fence photo available from Shutterstock

Boundary Structure in Ethical Practice-Part 1

Marie Hartwell-Walker, EdD

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. is an author, licensed psychologist, and a marriage and family therapist who has been in practice for more than 35 years. She is a regular contributor to Psych Central and one of the therapists who answer questions at Ask the Therapist.


APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2016). Boundary Structure in Ethical Practice-Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 Feb 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Feb 2016
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