How I Set Boundaries for Myself as an Intimacy Professional

Jun 01, 2023

By Amanda M. Edwards of The Association of Mental Health Coordinators

The Association of Mental Health Coordinators was founded by us: Bridget McCarthy (she/they) and Amanda M. Edwards (she/her, also your author today!). We began as therapists who were also Intimacy Professionals but quickly found ourselves managing much more than just the intimacy-specific skills we had learned on our IP training journey. It became clear there was a need for another role, specific to the mental health content and concerns of a project. As we’ve personally and professionally navigated defining our own boundaries around the work we do, it’s become clear that… well… that nothing is clear. And that it’s up to us as individual practitioners to find ourselves and our strengths (and what’s ethical in the space) in order to actually do better.

Bridget and I are both neurodivergent, multi-passionate artists and know we’re not alone, as Intimacy Professionals tend to be an enthusiastic, ambitiously helpful lot of folks. I used to long to help artists and consumers experience a safer environment in their craft regardless of storyline, content, or other variables (are you hearing the lack of boundaries in those good intentions?). I realized early on that I needed personal and professional boundaries around my work which lead to establishing a Scope of Practice.

As an IP, I’m used to supporting others to identify, express, and advocate for their own boundaries but, what about mine? I found myself accepting every job, every challenging conversation, every “hat” I was asked to wear and that was not okay. I needed boundaries for myself as an IP. Today, Bridget and I believe a combination of education, self-reflection, and integrity sets us up to be successful both in the work we do and making appropriate referrals for the work we’re not suited to do. And the truth of the matter is that both are equally important.

Bridget and I designed this process to be freeing, not limiting. It frees the practitioner to focus on their speciality, rather than attempting to be all things for all projects. It also allows someone with multiple competencies to clarify which “hat” they are wearing on a particular project, preventing confusion for the production and burnout for the practitioner.

Scope of practice is fluid, serves as a guide for ethical decision-making, prevents burnout and resentment, and manages expectations. All of the above sound great to me!

The trick is that there is no “correct” answer (bummer, I know). This determining scope of practice is ever evolving, and I definitely get it wrong sometimes. The acronym Bridget and I use to explore and determine scope of practice is RECITE. I offer this tool for your use today and hope that, as you increase your own wisdom and competencies, you’ll use it to revisit and reevaluate your work, as we do ours on every project we tackle.


  • What is my role here?

  • What specific tasks am I performing?

  • Do others understand the above?

  • Have others provided informed consent to me acting in this role?


  • What is my relationship to this space?

  • Is it safe for me to do this work here?

  • Is it safe for others for me to do this work here?

  • Is this space ready for me to do this work?

Cultural Competency:

  • Do I understand the nuances of this culture?

  • Am I the right person for this job?

  • Does my presence reduce the risk of harm?

  • Could my presence be potentially harmful?

Interest (Conflict of):

  • Is there a reason I shouldn’t do this work

  • What do I have to gain from this? Others gain from me?

  • Worst Case Scenario Test: why wouldn’t someone be open and honest with me?


  • Do I have specific training in this area?

  • How recent was that training?

  • Does someone else have more training?

  • Do I have access to someone with more training?


  • Have I had hands-on experience with this work?

  • Have I watched or worked with someone else who could be a lifeline for me?

  • Where does my lived experience line up? Is it too close?

Some factors in determining scope of practice:

Liability: Remember that misrepresentation of your scope of practice is not only dangerous to the folks under your care, but could also result in personal liability.

Mental Health First Aid is not an adequate substitute for training as a crisis counselor, just as a single intimacy class is not enough to effectively choreograph simulated sex and nudity.

Have a question about your scope? Talk to your community. We are here to uplift one another. Our community is a superpower. You don’t have to have all the answers all the time.

A Final Word:

You and I are people: not multi-purpose tools. We deserve to work within our own boundaries and competencies in the same way that we support performers to do so for themselves. Working within our scope of practice keeps us out of ethical quagmires and in alignment with our core values and I really believe that that’s where the magic happens.

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