Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Surprisingly little empirical attention has focused on therapist self-disclosure as an intervention with youth. Given the dearth of research in this area and the rising interest in evidenced-based practice, this study hoped to provide a deeper understanding of the effective use of therapist self-disclosure with adolescents. Twelve master's- and doctoral-level child therapists were interviewed regarding their use of therapist self-disclosure with adolescent clients. Participants largely felt that it was important to use therapist self-disclosure carefully and for the benefit of the client. Most participants had some level of training on therapist self-disclosure and felt that the intervention can be beneficial. Overall, certain types of self-disclosure were viewed as more effective than others when participants were driven by specific intentions. Specifically, therapists shared past experiences and helpful strategies when they sought to model/teach or normalize an adolescent's experiences, while self-involving disclosures were used to get "unstuck" in therapy or provide direct feedback. When participants discussed a specific instance of therapist self-disclosure with an adolescent, all identified positive effects of their therapist self-disclosures, but their paths to achieve these effects varied. Results indicated that the initial therapeutic relationship influenced the intention behind therapist self-disclosures, as well as the actual content of the disclosures. Limitations and implications for training, practice, and research are addressed.