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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Psychotherapist self-disclosure is addressed as a potentially important psychotherapeutic technique. Different types of self-disclosure are explained, to include deliberate self-disclosure, unavoidable self-disclosure, and accidental self-disclosure, illustrating their potential value and benefits to clients and to the psychotherapy process. Self-disclosure is examined as a boundary issue and ethics issues relevant to the use of self-disclosure are addressed. Illustrative examples are provided and a decision-making process is provided to assist psychotherapists to utilize self-disclosure with clients in an ethically appropriate and clinically effective manner. Relevant factors to be considered in the decision-making process are reviewed to include cultural factors, treatment setting, and the client’s treatment plan. Ethical challenges relevant to having an online presence are addressed and potential pitfalls for psychotherapists to be cognizant of are shared. Recommendations for the ethical and clinically appropriate use of self-disclosure are provided.

Keywords: self-disclosure, ethics, boundaries, decision-making, psychotherapy

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