Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapists-Health and hygiene-Psychological aspects, Chronic diseases-Psychological aspects, Self-disclosure, Psychotherapist and patient, Therapeutic alliance, Chronic illness, Wounded healer, Relational theories


This study sought to ascertain reasons why therapists with a chronic physical illness chose to self disclose information about their illness to their clients, and their perception of the effects those disclosures had on the therapeutic relationship. This qualitative, exploratory study aimed to expand the body of knowledge on self disclosures of this nature, which is limited and written largely from a psychoanalytical perspective. Licensed psychotherapists diagnosed with a chronic physical illness in adulthood, who had self disclosed their illness to at least one client, were recruited from the Boston metropolitan area to participate in a single, in-person interview. Ten therapists participated in the study. The major findings of this study were that the therapists were more likely to self disclose to clients who also had a physical illness. They utilized their disclosures to clients with an illness to model certain behaviors, join/identify with their client's experience and decrease the client's anxiety. The most frequent reasons why participants disclosed to clients without a physical illness were: the illness was visible; they had to take time away from their practice; and to maintain authenticity in the relationship. Common effects on the relationship include increased anxiety/worry and caretaking behaviors in the client; relationship building or termination by the client.




vi, 65 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 53-58)