Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Self-disclosure, Psychotherapist and patient, Anxiety disorders, Affective disorders, Mixed methods, Anxiety and/or mood disorder, Clinician's personal experience


This study used a mixed methods design to examine an emerging field of inquiry in selfdisclosure research, exploring the decisions clinicians make about the disclosure of their personal experiences with an anxiety and/or mood disorder to their clients. The researcher posited that this specific form of non-immediate disclosure might engender unique therapeutic benefits as well as particular ethical and professional dilemmas for practitioners. Forty-nine licensed, clinical social workers participated in an anonymous online survey with quantitative and qualitative components that inquired about their self-disclosure decisions, including the frequency of their disclosures, the types of information they revealed, their perception of the efficacy of these disclosures, and their levels of hesitancy to discuss these interventions with professional peers. Two licensed, clinical social workers participated in indepth interviews that investigated the impacts of their experiences with an anxiety and/or mood disorder on their practice generally and their self-disclosure decisions specifically. The findings of this study suggest that many clinicians do disclose to their clients aspects of their personal experience with an anxiety and/or mood disorder. Participants disclosed effective coping skills most frequently, but also revealed their experience with medication, therapy, and symptoms to their clients. Rationales for these disclosures included benefit to the client, instilling hope, modeling healthy behaviors and attitudes, equalizing the therapeutic alliance and empowering the client. The findings indicated that while participants overwhelmingly evaluated their disclosures as effective, they remained largely hesitant to discuss these interventions with their colleagues, and feared censure or other negative professional impacts.




iv, 130 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 106-113)