Boundaries can be tricky, sometimes there are demands on our time, or when a caller’s request is outside the service remit, and you seriously consider it. Working on maintaining boundaries is a balancing act and there are many factors that can influence how we respond. Our response for that extra bit of assistance from a service user at work may be very different to when a close friend asks.

It can be valuable to consider the different boundaries. Four common boundaries to consider:

- Moral Boundaries
Often callers are seeking solutions and may ask the helpline worker for input or their opinion on what to do next. It can be helpful to consider what are your morals and values, and what happens if someone crosses them? If you intend to address the discrepancy in the call, how do you intend to do that? How will you respond if the caller asks for your opinion?

- Emotional Boundaries
Responding to vulnerable callers can have an impact on the person responding. It can be helpful to consider what boundaries do you have related to your thoughts and feelings?
When considering your own self-care can you separate your feelings from other people’s feelings? Is there the potential that you may blame yourself if someone else is struggling? Likewise, how do you intend to relate to people if they have beliefs that are vastly different from your own?

- Physical Boundaries
Most telephone helplines operate remotely, the work is on the telephone, via email or webchat. Often you will never see the caller. However, if you operate at a drop-in centre or the helpline is part of an organisation what kind of rules do you want to maintain about your physical body and personal space? How much distance do you need between you and another person?

-Financial Boundaries
Often financial boundaries are not considered, and we can struggle to make a response or make a rash decision because we are caught out.; it can be helpful to consider what are your guidelines for lending, giving, or donating money to others? Do you plan to jump in and rescue if someone faces a financial hardship? What kind of financial support will you accept yourself?

Our boundaries webinar is a fantastic opportunity to consider further how we manage our responses. 

(Photo credit Jan Huber -