Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Self-disclosure-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapist and patient, Therapeutic alliance, Self-disclosure, Relational theory


This exploratory/descriptive quantitative/qualitative study surveyed clinicians to ask their views about the effects of voluntary self-disclosure by therapists when the issue to be disclosed is one the therapist shares with the client. Clinicians surveyed were 51 licensed clinical social workers, or those with at least a year of postgraduate experience and working towards licensure. Opinions about this topic were often mixed. A majority of the clinicians who participated in the study said they rarely disclosed, but 72% had disclosed an issue shared by a client at least once; when they did so, 94% said their disclosures concerned issues that had been resolved for them. Many respondents said the effects of such disclosing on the therapeutic alliance would depend on several factors, and could only be foreseen on a case-by-case basis, but 86.5% said that foreseeing client benefit was the reason for disclosure. Clinicians were fairly evenly split as to how well or not well their graduate educations prepared them to handle issues of self-disclosure. These findings suggest that therapist self-disclosure may be so nuanced and difficult to generalize about in graduate coursework that it might best be handled in supervision. Future research could benefit from focusing also on clients' opinions about the effects of such therapist disclosures.




iii, 63 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 54-56)

Limited Access until August 2017