What are the pros and cons of disclosing personal information about yourself as a therapist?

Different therapists disclose to varying degrees, dependent on the modality of treatment and the individual personality of the clinician.

I disclose very little for a number of reasons. Here are some of them:

  1. My focus is on the patient. I would prefer to know what they imagine about me than tell them my reality, which is irrelevant. Once I disclose personal facts it influences the patient and potentially limits what they will share with me.
  2. There is a possibility patients will become concerned about me because of my personal information. This might cause them to censor themselves in session, in order to avoid burdening me further).
  3. There is a possibility that patients will assume judgments of one kind or another if I disclose personal information. If they assume judgments without knowing much about me, we can understand how these assumptions relate to their inner world, as opposed to a reaction to information about me.
  4. If I disclose information patients may relate to these facts in one or another, and we can no longer understand the relationship as someone relating to /transference /(past relationship dynamics that are projected or acted out in treatment with the therapist).
  5. With disclosure the nature of the relationship changes, and patients may not feel as free to indulge in their own expression, but instead feel some social or personal pressure to engage and inquire about the therapist, which dilutes their own treatment.

Some reasons to disclose:

  1. Patient might feel comforted by therapists shared experiences.
  2. Patient may identify with therapist due to common experiences.
  3. Patient may feel therapist is warmer and more approachable.

As I mentioned I disclose very little, but patient’s gather plenty through the ongoing interaction. I am much more in favor of sharing very little personal information. Ultimately, I think it’s more likely to detract from the individual’s ability to share freely in sessions.

2018-06-19T01:27:28+00:00 March 2nd, 2018|