Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Knox, Sarah

Second Advisor

Burkard, Alan

Third Advisor

Edwards Lisa

Abstract

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.

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