Format of Original
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Counselling Psychology Quarterly
Given that questions related to disclosure have long held the interest of both clinicians and researchers, we are excited to present this special issue of Counselling Psychology Quarterly focusing on disclosure and concealment in psychotherapy. All forms of human communication involve some degree of disclosure, whether through verbal or non-verbal means. Most of us are quite careful about both the content and quantity of what we share with others. One factor that affects decisions about disclosure is the type of relationship. Friendships typically include an approximately equal amount of disclosure from both members, whereas in other relationships (e.g. parent–child, boss–employee), disclosure patterns may be less equal. Psychotherapy is one such relationship where participants likely do not disclose equally. Clients are expected to reveal themselves as much as possible so that therapists can help them, although the depth of such disclosures may gradually evolve as clients begin to feel safe with their therapists. In contrast, given that the purpose of psychotherapy is to help the client, therapist self-disclosure (TSD) is usually much more limited and ideally used only to help the client rather than meet therapists’ needs. Because psychotherapy is on the one hand much like a friendship, given the level of intimacy and sharing (Schofield, 1986), yet on the other hand a professional relationship focused on the client, it offers a rich opportunity for examining the disclosure process. We can consider disclosure to exist on a continuum. At one extreme, nothing is withheld and the person is completely open with all conscious thoughts and feelings. At the other extreme, a person does not disclose at all and in fact, might be actively concealing or lying. Few people live at the extremes, as it is almost impossible either to share or withhold all thoughts and feelings. In addition, it is important to recognize that disclosure is a state rather than a trait, such that although one may be generally open, that same person might not disclose in a particular given situation. For this special section, then, we focus on several aspects of this disclosure continuum. First, we focus on TSD. Next, we focus on client disclosure and concealment. We refer readers to prior reviews of the literature to gain more perspective on past research in this area (Henretty, Berman, Currier, & Levitt, 2014; Henretty & Levitt, 2010; Hill & Knox, 2002; Knox & Hill, 2003).