Coming up to Christmas, gifts are at the forefront of most our minds, even if we are not buying them or don’t believe in presents we are constantly surrounded by gifts, gift ideas, presents, gift filled Advent calendars, Christmas only available gift sets, gifts when you buy the Christmas only gift set – a constant and strategic saturation of both our emotions and financial situation!
There are a few different opinions about whether we should accept gifts or not as therapists. Accepting gifts can be a way of normalising their relationship. It gives the client an opportunity to say Thank You in their own way and often clients have both emotionally and financially invested part of themselves to give to you. One therapist I work with some time ago, would always give her clients a gift as a way to remember how far they had come. She encouraged them that every time they felt low to look at the gift (often a small stone/gem) and remember their hard work and investment in counselling.
The anti-gift view is that it blurs boundaries and gifts should be neither accepted nor given. Gifts can be seen as placating, seducing and undermining the professional relationship between client and therapist. Gifts from therapists to clients can also be seen as seductive and the therapists own anxiety about separating.
Gifts however, I think ultimately are a personal thing. For me I will accept gifts but state that as much as I appreciate them they are to be shared with the entire service. For me the clients experiences is the environment, the welcome at reception, the location, price, waiting list management and all other aspects that I do not partake in so it’s important for me to be altruistic and share with others. Other therapist will happily accept gifts for themselves whilst others will not accept anything from clients nor give.