In this paper personal disclosure is defined as a conscious verbal presentation to the patient by the therapist of a personal vignette accompanied by the appropriate dynamic formulation and resolution of a given personal area of conflict. It is conceptualized within theoretical formulations which consider the therapeutic relationship a dyad, where the reality of the patient and the reality of the therapist influence each other, providing the matrix through which the resolution of the patient's past life experiences takes place in the context of this new interpersonal experience. It is specifically differentiated from a boundary violation, because the personal disclosure is brought to the patient's interactional awareness not for gratification of the therapist's sexual or narcissistic needs, but to provoke a response in the patient's conceptualization of a phenomenon being presented in the session and to actively influence the intersubjective field. Within the conceptual framework developed in this paper, personal disclosure reaffirms the patient's current self-discovery and provides for a different formative experience. Personal disclosure is not to be used by the therapist as a vehicle to resolve personal conflicts or as source of personal gratification. When used within the context developed in this paper, personal disclosure enhances both the patient's therapeutic process and the therapist's ever-evolving growth.
Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis & Dynamic Psychiatry – Guilford Press
Published: Dec 1, 2003