Setting Healthy Boundaries




Giving and receiving are the core dynamics of relationships whether they are healthy or unhealthy.

Relationship is the core element of a small recovery group. Thus, learning to engage healthy boundaries will help you serve your male clients more effectively.

The experience of healthy interaction with your client will empower your client to enjoy a more rewarding recovery experience.

When working with the hurting individuals that will attend your support groups, there is the need of being both RESPONSIBLE and PROFESSIONAL when serving the abortion victim.

Because of the nature of his emotional wounds, he is likely to have very unhealthy boundaries in many areas of his life.

Thus, it is the role of the small group leader to establish healthy boundaries at the outset of a recovery outreach.


1. Limited access to your personal phone number.
2. Limited access to your personal email
3. Limited access to your personal address (home address)
4. Limited access to your last name or husband’s name
5. Planned Biblically-sound response when a person asks for your personal opinion.

As you reflect on this lesson, what boundary issues have you experienced in the past?

How have you handled those boundary violations?

How will you respond when a person asks for your personal opinion?

A. Boundaries Explained

What does it mean to have healthy boundaries?
Health boundaries are boundaries that result in a safe distance between two parties.

A person with an unhealthy boundary can easily become “dependent” upon someone who cares, almost to the point of becoming a “leech”.

What does it mean to be RESPONSIBLE?
A responsible boundary is a boundary that you consciously, with regularity establish with your client.

What does it mean to be PROFESSIONAL?
Doctors, lawyers, counselors, therapists and social workers adhere to a professional ethic that says you do not become emotionally involved with your client.

To be healthy enough to serve others you cannot take on your clients emotional baggage. To serve others, you must be healthy yourself.

B. Four Keys to Healthy Boundaries

1 Guard your personal phone number.
Don’t give your personal phone number to a client. If he does not have your phone number, it is unlikely he will be able to call you outside the center.

2. Guard your personal private email address.
Keeping your personal email private is critically important. Don’t compromise your personal space for the needs of your clients. Remember, it doesn’t work to be a rescuer.

3. Assign homework like a doctor Just as a doctor hands you a prescription
Give instructions how often to take the medicine, assign homework with a timed requirement. Read this verse 3 times a day and pray about what it means to you before we meet next week.

4. Accountability helps the Client
Holding your client accountable will help your client take charge of his own life making good and right choices.

This will help him. grow in the way he should go. It will empower his recovery experience. Accountability also helps you wh.en you hold someone else accountable.

In effect you are holding yourself accountable. When you hold someone accountable, you are helping yourself because it reduces the risk of your client crossing your boundaries and thus interrupting your personal life.

C. Three Benefits of Healthy Boundaries

Three Benefits of Maintaining Healthy Boundaries with your Clients
You insure your own privacy
Often a hurting individual will be unable to sleep at night due to depression, panic attacks and other major emotional/physical issues.

By establishing a healthy boundary, you will not be telephoned in the middle of the night. If you allow a client to become too close, he may suddenly show up at your door.

To prevent this from happening, never give out your personal phone number or home address. Further, if you stay on a first name

You cause the client to have to find other ways of dealing with their hurts other than relying on you.
Far too many times clients will ask, beg you to give them your opinion about what they should do. The legal ramifications of giving your own personal opinion to an emotionally unstable person are enormous.

Case in point:
A few years ago, Pastor John MacArthur counseled a troubled young man whose parents were a member of his church.

The young man after attending the counseling session, committed suicide. The distraught parents immediately sued the pastor, the church, the church school, the boards of each etc.

The massive case was won not by legal maneuvering but by the simple fact that John MacArthur never once gave the young man his opinion.

In fact, he was able to demonstrate to the jury that he only used his copy of the Bible while the young man was asked to read along using a copy of the Bible provided to him.

KEY POINT:Never give your opinion!

Instead as a doctor gives his patient a prescription, that requires the patient to do something specifically such as buy the medicine and take three pills a day for one week, give your client a “prescription” of a Bible verse and instructions on how to read it three times a day for one week.

You reduce your risk of having a “leech” attach to you.
As you likely know, an emotionally unstable person can often attach to someone. It doesn’t take much for them to attach to you.

Early in the ministry, my wife befriended a client. The client started calling her during the day, then at night. Next, she started coming over in the afternoon, to talk.

All of this invasion of our family’s privacy, all of the heartache of carrying her problems for her not only cost us emotionally but financially.

Set in place healthy, practical boundaries. Think about those who have attempted to leech onto you.

Do you see that by planning to react to their cries for help, their pleas for your opinion, you will be doing your family a huge favor, not to mention your own peace of mind.

D. 4 Key Consequences of of Unhealthy Boundaries

1. The client will invade your personal time and space away from the center.

2. The client will drain you emotionally.

3 The interruptions will interfere with your ability to serve others responsibly and professionally.

4. The unhealthy boundary sets you up for failure in the eyes of the client.

Ultimately an unhealthy person who is dependent upon you will turn on you when he feels that you are not helping him.

Unhealthy boundaries hinder your own healthiness. You become unhealthy in your boundaries with others when you fail to establish those healthy boundaries.

As the leader of the recovery, you must keep yourself strong and fresh, healed and focused to be helpful to the one you serve.

NEXT: Next learn the important Do’s and Don’ts of leading a group.