While it is perfectly healthy and effective in therapy to disclose any personal information about your life to your therapist that you desire, here are some things you do not want to be sharing with them:
- Social Media Accounts: That’s right. Therapists are bound ethically not to have any relationship with a client outside of the therapeutic one. Social media is something you share with family, friends, and co-workers (maybe). You likely don’t want your therapist seeing everything you post, and your therapist likely doesn’t want you to see what they post in their private life. This could alter the therapeutic setting. If your therapist has a professional or business social media account, these are okay to follow, but not personal accounts.
- Gifts: The therapeutic relationship is a unique one, and for that reason, some clients I work with feel a sense of gratitude and they want to communicate that. Some clients feel the need to give a gift or “return the favor” in some way. I always reassure my clients, the work we do together is not a favor, it is a business arrangement and you already paid me. Therapists have an ethical obligation not to accept gifts from their clients.
- DNA: Your therapist should never be related to you, even if it isn’t by blood. This comes back to that multiple relationships thing we talked about earlier under number 1. People in your family already have opinions about you and a serious investment in you. This would drastically impair their ability to be therapeutic and your ability to feel the comfort of unbias. I would extend this rule to close family friends or other significant people in your life.
- Invitations to personal events: Though many people want to share the exciting and proud moments of their lives with their therapist, this is best done verbally in session. There is no need to invite your therapist to your wedding, baby showers, graduation, or any other personal event in your life. Rather, come to your next session with all the wonderful details you want them to hear about. They will be happy to hear about it!
- Saliva: Yep, we’re going there. For most people, this is well understood. However, some people feel very close and connected to their therapist and in rare cases start to develop romantic feelings for them. Under no circumstances should a client and therapist ever share intimate or romantic relations. For my professional license, this boundary still stands if I am no longer seeing the client in therapy. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t even consider this one. There is someone out there who will understand you and make you feel safe that is not your therapist.
While all of these boundaries were written to the client, therapists have the ultimate responsibility to make sure that healthy boundaries are taking place in their practice. If your therapist has breeched any of these boundaries with you, it is time to have a conversation with them, and likely seek a new therapist.