(NC) Registered dietitians (RDs) are regulated health professionals. As such, they have a duty to protect their therapeutic relationship with clients. What does this mean?

It means that as a client, you should be confident that your RD will act professionally and take care of your nutritional needs above everything else. You should also expect that your dietitian will respect professional boundaries to keep you safe.

One way to respect boundaries is to avoid dual relationships. Dual relationships are a type of professional boundary crossing that can damage the RD-client relationship. An example of a dual relationship is when a dietitian treats a friend or family member or becomes friends with a client. Although dietitians are permitted to treat friends and family (except their spouse or romantic partner), they must use professional judgement in such cases to keep the therapeutic space safe. Most of the time, it is best for dietitians to avoid treating friends and family. It is important to keep in mind that RDs are not allowed to have a romantic or sexual relationship with a client. By law, this dual relationship is considered sexual abuse.

Exchanging gifts with your dietitian is a type of boundary crossing that can be problematic. Gifts have an emotional component that can change the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship. Receiving or giving a gift may indicate that a friendship is developing between an RD and a client.

RDs are accountable to their college for quality, client-centred dietetic practice. If you think a dietitian has crossed a boundary, you can contact the College of Dietitians of Ontario for help.

Find more information at www.mydietitian.ca