Holiday Boundaries

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“Can I buy a gift for my client?”

“Can I accept gifts?”

“Can clients and students give each other gifts?”

Some clinicians may say NO giving clients gifts, others may say it’s a grey area. My opinion as a clinician is NO; you should NEVER EVER buy a gift for an individual client. This can often lead to splitting of staff and favoritism. I do, however, think group gifts are okay with the rule that it should not cost more than $10! Over the years I have given Redbox gift cards (great for residential movie nights), packets of skin tone band aids (great for nurses to hand out to patients, and nothing like having a Band-Aid that matches your skin tone), greeting cards and stamps, or a magazine subscription (do make sure it is appropriate- Entertainment Weekly is a big hit at the shelters no matter the demographic).

Should you receive gifts? My stance is still NO, and this is often a hard one. I have clients, parents, and students who want to show their gratitude by gifting. My answer is always “That’s so thoughtful, but I am here because I enjoy my job”. However, let’s be real. Some clients, parents, and students will ignore your sentiment and think they are the exception to the rule. The key to winning this argument is to blame it on office policy, which is truly often the case. If I am presented with a crazy expensive or creepy gift (it has happened), I will spend the appropriate time needed to explain to a parent why I cannot accept a lovely bottle of wine from South Africa. Or, to a client who has tried giving me bracelet, I simply informed this client that such a gift makes me feel uncomfortable. This is also a great time to explore emotions and appropriate relationships with clients. What are your thoughts on these questions? How do you navigate holiday boundaries?

 

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