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|Case Studies Jan/Feb - Page 9|
In studying self-disclosure, I've found that it's better to disclose briefly and tentatively to begin with, and to ask clients about how they feel about the disclosure before telling them more. The case description doesn't make clear whether and how Falk checked in with Lisa as she began to disclose, and whether there was any evidence that sharing this much information was helping the client.
It's intriguing that Lisa later asked Falk, "Do you have someone in your life now?" I wanted to know why Lisa thought that information might be important for her at that particular point in the therapy. I was also curious about how Lisa reacted when Falk didn't respond to her directly, but decided instead to close "the chapter about my personal life." An important study in 2004 by Jean Hanson of the University of Toronto reported that 18 clients, primarily women, found that nondisclosures by therapists were particularly detrimental to their experience of therapy.
Therapists and clients have to create a comfortable personal relationship (albeit one with many limits) within the professional relationship. From the description of the case, it's unclear to me whether this happened between Lisa and Falk. Also notable is that in three years of working with Lisa individually, there's no mention of couples therapy, only the statement that her separation from Sam was "an event that somehow seemed to have occurred of its own accord."