When I first started my internship most of my clients were home-based, which means I go into their homes to work with them. We’ve since had to shut down our home-based program (funding issues — although we still do some home-based work through our school program) so now I only have two clients to visit each week.
I love home-based work. It’s an honor to be invited into a client’s life in that literal way and it also gives me a much more full picture of what’s going on and what’s most important to her. I also really like that it allows people who have many barriers to counseling get the help that they need and deserve. All the home-based clients I have are mothers and all have transportation and childcare problems that make it impossible for them to get to my office. So I come to them — perfect!
But home-based counseling can be complicated. The boundaries are different. Our ethical guidelines state that we can’t accept gifts from a client but can we accept a glass of water on a hot summer day? Is it ok if a client shows up to session in her pajamas? And what about all the things we learn about how to sit and where to sit and how to arrange our office chairs to promote sharing? Where does all of that go when you’re meeting in a client’s hotel room and sitting on the edge of her bed? I had questions about it and I wanted to talk to people more experienced than I am so I pitched an article to Counseling Today, which is the trade magazine for the American Counseling Association. The result, Home is where the client is, is in the September issue but you can read it online.