Therapeutic Self-Disclosure in Integrative Psychotherapy: When Is This a Clinical Error?

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Abstract

Ascending to prominence in virtually all forms of psychotherapy, therapist self-disclosure (TSD) has recently been identified as a primarily integrative intervention (Ziv-Beiman, 2013). In the present article, we discuss various instances in which using TSD in integrative psychotherapy might constitute a clinical error. First, we briefly review extant theory and empirical research on TSD, followed by our preferred version of integrative psychotherapy (i.e., a version of Wachtel’s Cyclical Psychodynamics [Wachtel, 1977, 1997, 2014]), which we title cognitive existential psychodynamics. Next, we provide and discuss three examples in which implementing TSD constitutes a clinical error. In essence, we submit that using TSD constitutes an error when patients, constrained by their representational structures (object relations), experience the subjectivity of the other as impinging, and thus propels them to “react” instead of “emerge.”

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