If you think the questions on your licensing exam were tough, wait until the first time your client asks you a question that will force you to pause before answering. There are many difficult questions your clients will ask from your relationship status to your weekend plans. Prepare to be caught off guard or surprised by what they ask.
Your boundaries will be pushed, so be aware of tough questions that will come your way in your clinical practice. Avoid being defensive when asked these questions because your client is opening up to you, and often they don’t know what’s okay versus not okay to ask unless you tell them. Here are a few of the toughest questions you’ll ever be asked.
Can we be friends?
Sure your client is kind, caring, and someone you would be friends with if you met them in any other place other than your therapy office. Even if you connect with them and want to meet them for coffee outside of their therapy appointment, it doesn’t mean you should.
You must keep healthy boundaries with your clients. If you don’t, you risk entering a dual relationship where they are your client and friend. This can emotionally hurt your client and send them mixed messages, which could ultimately cause harm. Many situations could negatively impact your client’s well-being in a dual relationship.
Will anyone know what I talk about in the session?
Before you quickly answer your client that no one will ever know what they share in therapy, make sure you explain to them cases in which you may have to break confidentially. Your client wants to see if they can trust you. For them to open up and share what they are experiencing, they want to know their information is private.
Since you are a great clinician, you want them to trust you and open up, so you assure them that their information is confidential. However, they deserve to know the scenarios in which you may have to break their confidentially, such as child/elder abuse, suicidal/homicidal plans, and subpoenaed records. Don’t skip this step even though it’s in your new client forms. Go over this information with them, so they are aware.
Should I go off my medication due to side effects?
Of course, you would never give any medical advice since you aren’t a physician, think about how often your client complains about their side effects of medication. As a clinician, you want to help your client, and their side effects impact many aspects of their life.
From libido, lethargy, and excessive weight gain, there are many side effects to medication. Even though you may want to share your opinion on their medication because of a past client experience or you want to see their life get better, avoid it at all costs. Resist the temptation of sharing your opinion because it can negatively affect your client. Leave any talk about medication to their physician. You can tell your client that they can follow up with their doctor to ask any questions.
These are just a few of the questions you will be asked in your clinical practice. Others include your dating history, sexual orientation, parenting goals, sexual history, just to name a few. Your clients are curious about your life, but there are ways to connect with your client without crossing any boundaries. Be sure that you reach out for supervision, consultation, and support with your ethical questions.
Dr. Kristie Overstreet is a clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, author, speaker, and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Addiction Professional. She has over 12 years of clinical experience specializing in sex therapy, transgender healthcare, relationships, and helping counselors build their private practice. She is president of Therapy Department, a private practice that provides counseling, training, speaking, and consulting services across the United States. For more information about Dr. Kristie’s work visit www.KristieOverstreet.com.