5 Boundary Pitfalls that Block Success in a Holistic Business



Your holistic certification likely won’t teach you how to own and operate a successful business, get new clients, or practice professional boundaries. Thus, new holistic certification business owners are subject to many potential pitfalls that traditional college degrees in similar fields might train you for. It’s important to be mindful of these gaps to increase your legitimacy as a holistic business owner. Today, let’s discuss some of the most common boundary pitfalls that block success in a service-based holistic business.

Pitfall #1: Using Business to Meet Your Emotional and Social Needs

We are often drawn to a new interest like holistic certifications because we hope that it will meet an emotional or social need that we have, especially if that need isn’t being fulfilled elsewhere. Maybe we want to connect with people more. Maybe we have a lot we need to feel through. Maybe we want to share our experiences with others. Maybe we feel we haven’t expressed ourselves enough. Maybe we’re just lonely. These are important needs that should be nurtured, but filling a needful void is not a good reason to go into business, mostly because when we’re needing, we’re not in a position to give to others. It’s best to practice meeting your emotional and social needs first and then practice extending yourself naturally in service as a result of your fullness.

Pitfall #2: Using Clients to Resolve Your Past

Whereas Pitfall #1 helps to make an early consideration, Pitfall #2 emphasizes what it could look like when you are deep in ‘getting behaviors.’ For example, you might be hijacking the client session by using their paid time with you to talk about yourself or process your issues, whether intently or obliviously. You should confide in a friend, but you should not confide in a client—this is never a good idea. If a client allows you to process your emotions with them, they are in a ‘getting behavior’ also, but they will likely build resentment in the long term. You are not in service to others if you are clinging to clients to get their attention, validation or approval. Your business is not for creating a safe space for you to process your past emotions with your clients; it’s for creating a safe space for your clients to process their past emotions with you.

Pitfall #3: Using Business to Prove Something – The Victor/Victim Identity

Many of us are subject to starting out as victors or victims depending on our past conditioning. Meaning, we either want to prove that we’re winning, or we want to prove that we’re not victims. You’ll probably act as both at various times during your development; however, it is ideal that we practice unhooking from these types of arrogance as early on as possible. The more we take responsibility and drill down on our egos via personal development, the more that the victor/victim mentality finds resolution, and the better service we can offer to clients and the more respect we will naturally command, especially in a coaching capacity. Our business becomes more effective (and more in demand) when we use it as a means of developing ourselves and our clients to unravel our pretenses and defenses instead of using a business as an extension of our egos to build up those pretenses and defenses.

Pitfall #4: Becoming Too Casual with Clients

You might start with practicing your holistic service on friends, but in the long run in business, most of your clients will be strangers, and you can’t befriend them all. Meaning, you’re not going to spend time with them on an ongoing personal basis outside of the office, nor should you try because it would blur and erode professional boundaries in the office. Unfortunately, some holistic practitioners forget that building rapport with a client does not mean relating to them the way you’d relate to your friends.

If every client became a friend, you wouldn’t have a business anymore; you’d have a social club with some twisted boundaries, and every “friend” would have a different expectation and opinion of how you should treat them while being your friend who is also a client. You don’t want to know how messy and unproductive this can get. The more casualness we allow, the more the likelihood of boundary erosion, especially in a non-traditional holistic setting. So instead of opting for friendship, opt for being friendly while maintaining healthy boundaries and professionalism in business, which fosters respect and referrals.

Pitfall #5: Needing, Not Leading

If you are using your clients to get something (i.e., praise, power, pleasure, safety, approval, validation), then you are ‘needing,’ and you should consider reevaluating whether you should be accepting their money for providing a service. However, a practitioner who can lead a client consciously practices the following:

  • You are getting your emotional needs met outside of the office.

  • You are in business to give something, not get or prove something.

  • You have developed yourself enough not to project your issues onto your clients.

  • You practice and uphold friendly professional boundaries with clients.

  • You constructively challenge client limitations as needed without succumbing to approval seeking.


Falling into any of these pitfalls is normal and natural, so don’t worry. But allowing these pitfalls to go unchecked will cause long-term harm to your holistic business. Instead, use these insights to gain awareness, be earnest and have intent about showing up emotionally healthy and professionally, and your behavior will follow suit to support your efforts. While we are all works in progress, adopting these insights can help to ensure that you offer a professional practice that is respected in the long term and highly beneficial to your clients.

For more on healthy boundaries, join us as a new hypnotherapy student, and we will provide you with the proper training with your certification as a clinical hypnotherapist.

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