Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Self-disclosure, Self-disclosure-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapist and patient, Life change events-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapists-Psychology, Identity (Psychology), Clinician self-disclosure, Pregnancy, Professional identity, Medical issues, Relational theory


Psychotherapist use of self-disclosure is a topic that has been under-researched to date. Stemming from classic psychoanalytic training, the belief that clinicians should strive to be "blank slates" influences many psychotherapists' negative perceptions of their own selfdisclosure. Within this study 12 psychotherapists were interviewed regarding their experiences disclosing personal life events to their clients in order to ascertain what influence, if any, these disclosure experiences had upon their professional identities. Of the personal life events that were described, some were inevitable and unavoidable while others were more intentional in nature; the main types of personal life events that emerged through the interviews pertained to: pregnancy, medical issues, marriage and divorce, and death of family members. The findings from the interviews overwhelmingly demonstrated that the psychotherapists' self-disclosures had a profound influence on them both professionally and personally. This study ultimately strives to reframe the classical notion that clinician self-disclosure is something to be avoided by using relational theory to show that psychotherapists' disclosure of their personal life events can, in fact, be a useful and professional clinical tool.




iii, 74 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-70)