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Appropriate Use of Self-Disclosure


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Appropriate use of self-disclosure

The appropriate use of self-disclosure is another of the many “tricks of the trade” the scholar- practitioner must master and add to their therapeutic arsenal. I asked my own therapist about this and he told me about something that he heard at a conference many years ago. He says when he’s about to self-disclose he stops himself and asks (silently, to himself) W.A.I.T !?! or What Am I Telling? This gives him enough time to check himself and make sure he is a.) not doing it to satisfy any of his own needs and b.) upholding the ethical principles he is responsible for upholding, especially beneficence and non-maleficence. Non-verbal self-disclosure includes things like how we look and speak and happens all by itself. i.e.-if a counselor is 7 months pregnant and speaks with a heavy accent she is disclosing a couple of things about herself to the client whether she wants to or not. Immediate or interpersonal self-disclosure reveals feelings of the therapist. For instance, to the client who is 7 minutes late for every single appointment, I might decide to address that by saying something like “I just have to admit that I am curious if you recognize that your continuing late arrivals have started to make me wonder if you respect my time.” This brings the client to the immediate focus of the effects of his behavior where we can discuss it in context and it reveals an appropriate amount of information about my personal feelings which should both positively affect the therapeutic alliance. Non-immediate or intra-personal self-disclosure can be more intense and have a deeper impact. It is very important the counselor not lose focus on the client here, especially considering that divulging similar traumatic life experiences it can involve relaying some deeper subject matter and subsequent emotions. This shift away from the

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