What is self-disclosure?
Self-disclosure is a process of communication in which one person reveals information to another. It can be used in many ways, but in this instance, we will be talking specifically about self-disclosure with therapy practices and mental health professionals.
Types of self-disclosure
- Accidental – unplanned encounters outside of the counseling session
- Unavoidable – client revelations about a therapist through obvious distinguishing characteristics like someone’s race, jewelry, and haircut.
- Client–initiated – when a client seeks and finds information about their counselor online, through biographies, awards, family history, etc.
- Deliberate – purposeful self-disclosure with a client
- Builds rapport with clients
- Reduce client’s uneasy feeling of sharing by counselor sharing
- Conveys empathy to clients and shows them they’re not alone
- Can “humanize” the counselor to clients
- Shift of treatment focus
- Excessive sharing may be seen by the client as self-serving
- Could share views that invalidate the client’s values and beliefs
- Too much self-disclosure can blur the boundaries between the client-counselor relationship
When to use self-disclosure?
With all of the above in mind, it is ultimately up to the counselor if and when to self-disclose. Before self-disclosing, consider the benefits and the risks, he brief, and use “I” statements.