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The Do's and Don'ts of Self-Disclosure

Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls

Janine Roberts

By Janine Roberts - When I've asked people who've gone to therapy what was most helpful, again and again, they've described times when their therapists shared something about their own personal struggles. Today, with the informality of our culture, both therapists and clients are likelier to step across previous professional guidelines.

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The Stories That Bind Us

A Special Feature from Our Family Matters Department

Janine Roberts

By Janine Roberts - When I was eight years old, I reached into Mom's jewelry drawer and found a folded piece of paper that read: “I want to die here in the meadow. The lupine and Indian paintbrush around me.” Not long ago, my granddaughter was born. She taught me anew how we want to connect and be seen—something Mom needed from me.

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Does Self-Disclosure in Therapy Hurt or Heal?

Finding a Balance in Sharing Personal Information with Clients

Janine Roberts

Despite our best intentions, self-disclosure can backfire. So why are we drawn to it so strongly as a therapeutic tool? Hundreds of therapists in workshops I've led around the world have said they share personal information to strengthen the therapeutic alliance, demystify therapy, and reduce the power differential between themselves and their clients. In the discussion about self-disclosure, we need to move beyond an either/or frame, as in "yes, do it," or "no, keep tight boundaries."

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Therapist Self-Disclosure

Think Before You Get Personal

Janine Roberts

The ways we disclose, read cues from our clients, and dialogue about what’s been divulged are the keys to whether therapist self-disclosure helps clients’ therapeutic goals or gets in the way.

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