Boundaries

At Vita we talk a lot about boundaries when preparing people to teach Decisions. Boundaries define your role and relationship to the client. Boundaries include issues of: time, place, self-disclosure, space, gifts, language and personal presentation. The important thing to remember is that you are a teacher or facilitator, not a friend. A teacher meets with students in a particular place at a specific time: “We’ll meet every Tuesday at 1:30,” in contrast to a friend who might drop by for a chat or arrange a casual meeting. A friend might hug or give a kiss on the cheek when greeting a friend. Imagine how confusing this would be to a client; is this friendship, romance, or something else altogether? Clear boundaries help the client understand the nature of your relationship, which then helps you both decide how to act with one another.

Boundaries give your clients space to make their own decisions. A Decisions’ success is when the client completes the course better able to think clearly. If you as the instructor give your opinions or tell your client what to do, you rob him of autonomy. Without meaning to, you have worked against your client’s best interest. This can be hard to do if he appears about to make a mistake, “I’m going to tell that guard exactly what to do with his rules!” Instead of giving advice, “Don’t do that, you’ll get in trouble,” rely on the process. “Let’s look at Point 4. Think of all the possible outcomes, both positive and negative, that could happen if you told-off the guard.” Putting the situation into the process allows the client to shift from emotional talk to clearer thinking. This puts him in a better position to make a reasoned decision. And that’s exactly what you’re there to teach.

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