Therapist Self Disclosure In Therapy University Of Southern Queensland / Psy8010 Essay

2365 words - 10 pages

Running Head: Therapist Self-Disclosure
Therapist Self-Disclosure
Therapist Self-Disclosure in Therapy
This essay examines the concept of therapist self-disclosure through a review of the history of how this concept has developed, from the ideas of Freud through to more recent use in Existential therapies. It examines how attitudes toward self-disclosure have changed as new therapeutic modalities have emerged and previous ideas have been challenged, how it is now defined and operationalised and through an examination of the relevant supporting literature.
Therapist Self-Disclosure in Therapy
Although the term “self-disclosure” was first used by Sidney Jouard in 1958 (Henretty, Currier, Berman and Levitt, 2014), the concept of therapist self-disclosure, as understood and recognised in contemporary terms, originated with Freud in 1912 when he espoused the idea that the more a therapist reveals about themselves, the less a client will. “The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him”(Freud, 1912, in Farber, 2006). Freud saw resolution of transference as one of the main goals of treatment and viewed self-disclosure by the therapist as risking the contamination of transference and the intrusion of reality at the expense of fantasy. He was worried about what he saw as the willingness of young therapists to favour intimacy with clients in favour of neutrality to advance the healing process (Momigliano, 1987). There were some exceptions to this view among early psychoanalysts, such as Sandor Ferenczi, who was an associate of Freud but who personally favoured the use of self-disclosure (Farber, 2006).
The irony in this is that, despite essentially defining for decades to come the way in which self-disclosure should be used, or not used, as it turns out, Freud appears to have actually ignored his own advice. Momigliano (1987), in interviews with former patients of Freud, discovered that Freud freely answered any questions that came from his patients, showed them personal photographs, gave his patients gifts and lent them his books, lent or gifted money, and freely discussed his family and colleagues. Perhaps this was a case of Freud honouring his own edict more in the breach than in the observance! Indeed it would seem that Freud did not really expect his statements regarding therapist opacity and distance to be taken too literally.
At one stage Freud wrote to Ferenczi, pointing out that he was trying to emphasise what not to do, rather than what to do, and explaining that everything that a therapist should do in a positive sense with a patient was something that he (Freud) left to their own judgement. (Geller, 2003, in Farber, 2006). Freud explained to Ferenczi that he was not seeking to establish therapeutic taboos and that he felt there was a certain level of elasticity in his views on the role and behaviour of the therapist (Geller, 2003, in Farber, 2006).

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