Brooke is a licensed optician. She is struggling with frustration towards a family member. One afternoon, she can’t help but share her situation with Candice, an understanding patient she sees often. They live in a small community where everyone is familiar with each other.
Candice is sympathetic and understanding, which Brooke appreciates. Every time Candice comes back in, Brooke ends up talking about this negative family situation.
What are the issues?
Crossing a boundary once can become a habit, as once a relationship has changed into a more personal connection; it is hard to then withhold information.
Over time Candice becomes invested in Brooke’s problems, but Candice’s role isn’t to console Brooke; it’s to be her patient. Brooke’s role is to provide Candice’s vision care. A role reversal where Candice is serving Brooke’s needs (to vent, to receive support) can happen by accident.
Since Brooke and Candice live in a small community, it is likely that they are friends outside of the professional setting. It is all right for them to have these conversations outside of the work environment, but while Candice is Brooke’s patient, Brooke must work to keep the conversation professional in order to ensure objective and trustworthy care.
So what now?
Set the tone of the discussion and ensure that the topics are concerned with patient needs and eye care, rather than your needs. If you find yourself building a personal relationship rather than a professional relationship, re-evaluate and focus on re-establishing boundaries