Therapy Watch: Full Disclosure

We asked the experts: How much is too much for a therapist to reveal about themselves to a client? A discussion on appropriate self-disclosure.

By Matthew Hutson, published on November 1, 2007 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

How much personal information should a therapist share? When does it go from helpful to self-indulgent? We asked the experts in Psychology Today's Therapy Directory what they thought.

Lead By Example

"I have heard a lot of stories from clients about therapists telling them at length about their own problems," Candace Coker Smith says. "They find it unprofessional." But she often finds herself using the skills she teaches her clients, and she'll bring in those real-life examples.

Flesh and Blood

"I'm a big advocate for appropriate self-disclosure in medicine and counseling psychology," Deah Curry says. "I think it humanizes the clinician, models good coping strategies, and creates trust, rapport, and openness. But if you can't bring your story back to how it relates to the client's issues in 30 to 60 seconds, it's probably serving you and not them."

Mental Note

Ker Cleary echoed a popular sentiment: "The 'me-too' impulse is there at times, but I just bite my tongue—sometimes literally—and save it for my own therapist."

Fair and Balanced

Sometimes patients ask Anne Rettenberg personal questions to gauge whether she's going to understand them or inject her own biases, in which case she considers answering them. "Then we discuss any feelings or thoughts they have associated with my response."

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