Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Self-disclosure, Online social networks, Psychotherapist and patient, Therapy, Social networking sites, Exploratory


This qualitative, exploratory study used an interview method to understand if clinicians believed there was any connection between their online self-disclosure on social networking sites (SNS) and offline self-disclosure with clients. Twelve clinicians were asked a myriad of questions to address the perceptions of their disclosures in each arena and any potential relationship between their comfort and frequency to self-disclose online and in therapy. Using a relational theory lens to understand therapeutic self-disclosure, this research adds a new component to current clinical literature on the topic by comparing it to self-disclosure on social networking sites like Facebook. As a whole, clinicians in the study did not perceive a connection between their personal use of social networking sites and how often they self-disclosed with clients. Half the participants believed that their comfort to disclose in both places was related based on being limited and cautious with disclosures while the other half did not see the two categories as related. No one in this study indicated that increased comfort or frequency to selfdisclose online led to increased self-disclosures with clients. These results suggest that clinicians perceive online SNS self-disclosure in a different light than therapeutic self-disclosure and that they can engage in online social networking habits and professional roles simultaneously without blurring therapeutic boundaries. Participant demographics are addressed and discussion is offered in terms of the strengths and weaknesses of this research, the study's implications, and suggestions for future exploration on this topic.




iv, 101 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 82-86)