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The power of safe self-disclosure for therapeutic relationship-building

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Notes to Episode

Today’s episode is a solo chat about self-disclosure, why we might overshare, and how to think about the right boundaries for us. As a clinical psychologist I have valued clear boundaries around self-disclosure, but practicing as a case manager can be a bit different. So this is a reflection on what feels safe, comfortable and necessary to share with our clients in the pursuit of maintaining a good therapeutic bond.


self-disclosure, Yalom, therapy, clinical psychology, case management, peers, over-sharing, vulnerability, psychotherapy, relationship, colleagues, self-compassion, self-acceptance, judicious, uncomfortable, confidential, personal information, accidental, unavoidable, client-initiated, deliberate, benefits, risks, personal injury, empathy, struggles, emotions, validation, imbalance, power, humanity, sensitive, curiosity, alienation, difference, privilege, boundaries, professional, human, power, boundaries, scab, scar, life experience, relatable, minimal, concise, motivation, subjective, values, misjudgment, detrimental, pitfalls.

1:00 Did I share too much?

1:10 Shabnam’s experience of sharing about parenthood at work

4:42 Self-disclosure as a positive

6:05 Definition of self-disclosure

7:37 The four types of self-disclosure

9:11 How self disclosure works in catastrophic injury work

12:10 Risks and pitfalls

15:41 Getting the balance right - a checklist

Go for the scars not the scabs

17:22 Be clear about whether risks are worth taking

18:03 Be brief and minimal

19:43 Subjective vs expert opinion

20:17 Consider your client’s values


5:36 "Self-disclosure is a really useful tool when done in a considered, thoughtful and judicious way."

11:57 "Personal disclosure may serve to humanize the professional in the client’s eyes."

13:10 "There’s a question - for whom am I sharing this information, them or me?"

16:37 "Unless a clear benefit to the client can be identified, self-disclosure should not be used."

22:05 "It’s better to use safe disclosure further down the line than unsafe self-disclosure earlier on the relationship in our desperation to build a good rapport with our clients."

Written and presented by Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan, Director of PsychWorks Associates

Editor: Emily Crosby Media