Why do therapists disclose so little about ourselves? And all this before the patient really gets curious and googles us. More subtle is disclosure aimed to make the patient like or respect the therapist. Some easily tolerate asking a question and not getting an answer, and enjoy exploring what their own minds come up with. A sensitive therapist recognizes this and responds accordingly. Free and open disclosure by the therapist is compatible with perfectly good therapy — just not the psychodynamic variety that examines transference. One is that not every patient in psychodynamic therapy handles frustration and delayed or thwarted gratification the same way.
I have supervised many beginning therapists who treat non-disclosure as a blindly followed rule about maintaining boundaries. Moreover, we often reveal just by our look of recognition, or the lack of it, whether we are familiar with the book, movie, restaurant, cultural happening, or bit of street slang the patient just mentioned. One is that not every patient in psychodynamic therapy handles frustration and delayed or thwarted gratification the same way. The less known about the therapist, the more the patient fills in the blanks with transference. Free and open disclosure by the therapist is compatible with perfectly good therapy — just not the psychodynamic variety that examines transference. Why do therapists disclose so little about ourselves? If nothing else, patients know our race, gender, approximate age, and how we like to decorate the office. Traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy, the kind that evolved from Freudian psychoanalysis, derives much of its healing power from observing and analyzing the transference. The standard answer goes as follows. The most important point about therapist self-disclosure is that the therapy is for the patient, not the therapist. The slate is far from blank. Still, therapists play what must seem like a sadistic guessing game to many patients: Some easily tolerate asking a question and not getting an answer, and enjoy exploring what their own minds come up with. And all this before the patient really gets curious and googles us. In between are the majority who find therapist non-disclosure frustrating, but who can tolerate and work with it. Therapists who self-disclose because they like to tell stories or talk about themselves detract from the therapy they provide. They need another outlet friends and family? I see no harm, and much to gain, in offering a brief rationale. For this reason, anything in dynamic psychotherapy that promotes transference, and leaves it in its unperturbed natural state for observation, helps move the process along. I consider both of these factors when a patient asks me a personal question. However, there are several caveats that go with this idea. In addition, patients i. Why all the secrecy? Often therapists themselves fail to distinguish these two aims. Transference and even their own privacy are poorly articulated afterthoughts. As a general guideline I disclose what I judge will benefit my patient, and not what I judge will not. But there is a final point to be made about privacy.
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