Client Attachment

Hi coaches,

I have a client I have been working with since October 2020. She has repeatedly expressed her wish to be friends with me. I have stated that this is a professional relationship. I have learned a lot about how to keep a relationship professional and how to set appropriate boundaries.

A couple of weeks ago in a session she expressed a wish to talk to me about something stating, “I want to sell my property. I think I can get $50k for it. I will keep $20k and ask you to give $30k to your daughter, anonymously.” I didn’t react at the time and told her I would discuss it with my husband. I had no intention of helping her give money to my daughter, but I wanted time to manage my thoughts before I said anything to her about it. For reference, she has met my daughter in a group coaching call I had. My client wanted to give my daughter the money to help her buy a house.

One thing (among many) that bothers me about this situation is that when we began coaching, she said she wanted to be coached on how to move forward with her plans to build a house for herself and the disabled adult she cares for. She said that she told God that she didn’t need to have the house anymore because “He connected us.” I have explained that it’s not an either or proposition, that having both is possible.

I spoke with other coaches and an LCS mentor about it. Each of them, without prompting from me, expressed that this request is a boundary violation. I felt that way as well. She experienced abuse as a child and self-identifies as not being able to form lasting friendships. I have felt that her attachment to me is unhealthy in the past, and this cemented that thought.

I decided to discontinue the coaching relationship because I don’t believe I can, in good conscience, continue to coach her. I am not trained in trauma and I feel that continuing to coach someone who is so attached to me that she would give up the property she purchased to build her home on would not be good for her, let alone for me.

In our next session, I expressed my belief that she needs a coach or therapist who is trained in trauma. Since I am not trained in that area, I suggested some resources she could turn to that will help her continue her journey toward where she needs to be.

She cut off contact with me, as I expected, since she has expressed that is what she does when someone states that they feel she is too attached to them. A couple of days ago, she broke silence and sent me an email with some of her thoughts. I would like to respond in a professional manner. I do not wish to get into a discussion with her to defend my actions or to overcome her objections.

There’s the back story- now to the question. Is her offer as large a boundary violation as I think it is? I like my reasons for discontinuing our relationship, but there is still a little nagging thought that maybe I could do something more. I have no idea what more I can do, but part of me still wants to do something.