Working With Clients – Setting Boundaries

A variety of situations and scenarios will occur while working with clients that will test your boundaries with them.  It is important for you to understand the legal or liability issues and your region’s regulations for transportation in determining what you will and will not do for your clients.

It is also important to communicate your business practices and policies to your clients in writing so there are no misunderstandings during your work together.  Set clear expectations with clients at the beginning of the process about what they can expect from you, as the professional, and what you expect from them, as the client.

To help you be prepared here are a few situations to consider:

Business Hours:

When are you off the clock? It isn’t healthy to be available to clients 24/7. This pertains to client sessions as well as phone calls, emails, and texts.  So, spend some time deciding what are your office hours and stick to them.


  • If your client asks to end your scheduled session early, are you going to charge for the time scheduled or the time worked?
  • If your client is late for your scheduled session, are you going to charge for the time scheduled or the time worked?
  • How are you going to handle post-dated checks or bounced checks?

Role Boundaries – are you going to:

  • Care for your client’s children, elders, or pets if your client needs to leave during your working session?
  • Run errands for your client during your working session?
  • Perform housekeeping services?
  • Perform handyperson services?
  • Remove or transport hazardous waste for your client?
  • Accept gifts from your clients?

Personal Boundaries – are you going to discuss the following subjects about either you or your client:

  • Family members?
  • Sexual preference?
  • Marital status?
  • Religious or spiritual preference?
  • Political affiliations?
  • Physical or mental health issues?

What strategies do you use to establish boundaries with your clients?

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  1. Another good scenario to consider and is bound to happen:
    What is your policy if the client decides to cancel or reschedule? Will there be a fee? Do they have to call within 24 hours?

    • Anne Blumer on February 5, 2020 at 10:51 am

      That is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Teresa, what is your cancellation/reschedule policy? Or, what is your business practice to reduce that occurrence?

  2. Kate Bosch on February 5, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Anne, this blog came at just the right time for me as I’m struggling to enforce a boundary with a client around drug use. It’s a delicate situation.

    • Anne Blumer on February 5, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Kate, recreational drug use is definitely one of the riskier situations working with clients. I recommend you add to your policies in your client agreement that recreational drug use during sessions or exposure to recreational drugs is not acceptable, and that a breach of policy will end a session at the expense of the client. Here is an example: Client will refrain from smoking tobacco, recreational drug use, and alcohol use during Services. Failure to refrain will result in cessation of Services, and the full session charged to Client.

      With your current client, you could provide an updated client agreement with new policies for them to review and sign.

  3. Sharon Nolte on May 20, 2021 at 7:02 am

    On cancelling and rescheduling, I have grace for their situation. Everyone has things that come up or happen last minute. Most people offer to pay me for cancelling, I decline. Many times when they cancel last minute, I am tired and need a break anyway. If they cancel 3 times with me, I’m done with them.

    • Anne Blumer on May 20, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      Sharon, What do you do if you show up and they are not home? I had that happen too many times and now have clients prepay for their session.

      • Anon on May 25, 2021 at 3:33 pm

        That’s the best way and only way I do it! They pay at the time of scheduling and contract. In this order within the same day of consulting: consultation, contract review, sign, PAYMENT IN FULL, schedule.

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