This weeks #OTalk is on the topic of “self disclosure” and will be hosted by Solei Naisbett Jones @soleinj_.
Here is what Solei had to say…
Hi I’m Solei! I am a newly qualified occupational therapist currently working in neurology. After qualifying in 2017, I pursued postgraduate studies and completed my master’s degree in Advanced Professional Practice at the University of Plymouth. My research dissertation for my MSc explored therapist self-disclosure by occupational therapists. I am excited to host an #OTalk surrounding this topic area to share the findings of my research and hear about your experiences of self-disclosing to clients in the therapeutic relationship.
Therapist self-disclosure by occupational therapists has not yet been explored in depth within the profession. It can be defined as “non-immediate exposure of personal information regarding the therapist’s life outside the therapeutic encounter, such as emotional struggles, health status, past experiences, personal beliefs, values, or life circumstances” (Audet and Everall, 2010). It has been debated that therapist self-disclosure can impede therapy, creating role confusion, client uncertainty and therapist fear of client judgment (Moore and Jenkins, 2012). Despite this, it is also suggested that self-disclosure can bring therapeutic benefits by facilitating rapport through showing trust, genuineness and honesty on the therapist’s part (Audet and Everall, 2010).
As a person-centred profession which honours the importance of emotional sharing, rapport building, collaboration and partnership (Taylor, 2008), therapists’ interaction and communication with their clients is highly valued within occupational therapy (Boyt-Schell, Scaffa and Cohn, 2014). As occupational therapists, one of our core skills is our therapeutic use of self, a valuable tool in which we make a conscious effort to control our responses to enable client comfort and reassurance (Taylor, 2008). Arguably, therapist self-disclosure is a key component of the therapeutic use of self. As occupational therapists, we have a responsibility to maintain professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship (Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT, 2015). However, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, 2017) also indicate that as occupational therapists, we are required to work in partnership with clients, adopting an approach which motivates, involves and centres on the client. Ultimately, this #OTalk will explore and discuss the potential enhancing or damaging effect of self-disclosure by occupational therapists on the therapeutic relationship.
- What do you consider to be “self-disclosure with a patient/client”?
- What leads you to share personal experiences with patients/clients? Do you disclose to patients/clients often?
- What do you consider the main benefits and potential issues to be when disclosing information to patients/clients?
- What conversations/discussions have you had with colleagues about self-disclosing to a patient/client in practice?
- Do you think guidance surrounding therapist disclosure of personal information to patients/clients would be helpful for occupational therapists? What should the guidance address/include?
Audet, C, D. and Everall, R, D. (2010). ‘Therapist self-disclosure and the therapeutic relationship: a phenomenological study from the client perspective’. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling.38(3), pp. 327-342.
Boyt-Schell, B, A., Scaffa, M, E., Gillen, G., and Cohn,, E, S. (2014). ‘Contemporary Occupational Therapy Practice’ in Boyt-Schell, B, A., Scaffa, M, E., Gillen, G., and Cohn, E, S. Willard and Spackman’s Occupational Therapy Twelfth Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, pp. 47-58.
Health and Care Professions Council (2017). Standards of conduct, performance and Ethics. London: HCPC.
Moore, J. and Jenkins, P. (2012). ”Coming out’ in therapy? Perceived risks and benefits of self-disclosure of sexual orientation by gay and lesbian therapists to straight clients’. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 12(4), pp. 308-315.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists. (2015). Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.London: RCOT.