A Nurse’s Guide to Professional Boundaries

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A nurse’s guide to professional boundaries

February 2010 This is a companion document to the Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Nurses

©Copyright 2010 This work is copyright February 2010. Copyright is held jointly by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Nursing Council of New Zealand. ISBN 978-0-9807515-7-4 This work is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for study or training purposes subject to an inclusion of an acknowledgement of the source and is available electronically at www.anmc.org.au. It may not be reproduced for commercial use or sale. Reproduction for purposes other than those indicated above requires a licence or written permission, which may be obtained from the Australian
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Nurses actively preserve the dignity of people through practiced kindness and respect for the vulnerability and powerlessness of people in their care… This vulnerability creates a power differential in the relationship between nurses and persons in their care that must be recognised and managed.7 A diagram representing a continuum of professional behaviour provides a picture of therapeutic versus non-therapeutic behaviour in the relationship between the nurse and the persons in their care.8

A CONTINUUM OF PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR
DISINTERESTED NEGLECTFUL under involvement THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP zone of helpfulness BOUNDARY VIOLATIONS over involvement

Every nurse-client relationship can be plotted on the continuum of professional behaviour Adapted from: National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2004)

The ‘zone of helpfulness’ describes the centre of a continuum of professional behaviour. This zone is where the majority of interactions between a nurse and a person in their care should occur for effectiveness and the safety of that person. ‘Over involvement’ of a nurse with a person in their care is to the right side of the continuum; this includes boundary crossings, boundary violations and sexual assault and inappropriate relationships with the
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