Freud believed that a client should not disclose what occurred in therapy to people outside the confines of the therapeutic alliance. “Disclosure to others was seen as a defense against being fully engaged in the analytic relationship,” said Rachel Khurgin-Bott of the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College at Columbia University. “In general, therapy has become more egalitarian and relational, and few contemporary therapists would likely set rules for what their patients could and could not say outside the boundaries of the therapeutic setting.” With the introduction of social networking websites, people have begun to share intimate details of their lives more frequently, including details of therapeutic experiences. Additionally, the stigma surrounding therapy has decreased. “As a result, many individuals are far less reluctant now to acknowledge going to a therapist,” said Khurgin-Bott, lead author of a new study examining the pros and cons of disclosure. “Whether and to what extent such acknowledgment extends to sharing the details of psychotherapy treatment are questions that have remained largely unexamined.”
Khurgin-Bott evaluated 135 psychotherapy clients using the Disclosure About Therapy Inventory (DATI) and found that clients were relatively comfortable disclosing details of their treatment to others. “Findings revealed that patients tend to be moderately willing to discuss their therapy experiences, especially the positive feelings they have for their therapists and their therapists’ reactions to things they say in sessions; moreover, immediately after disclosing information about their therapy, they tend to experience positive feelings,” she said. “When patients avoid disclosing some details about their therapy, they do so for fear of hurting, angering, or burdening their confidants.” One of the obstacles that prevents people from accepting therapy is understanding how to take advancements made in therapy and apply them to real life situations. Khurgin-Bott said, “This kind of openness about extratherapeutic conversations about therapy can facilitate a discussion of the kinds of material that patients feel comfortable (and not comfortable) discussing in treatment and, more generally, may play a significant role in integrating the gains of therapy into patients’ everyday lives.”
Khurgin-Bott, Rachel, and Barry A. Farber. “Patients’ Disclosures about Therapy: Discussing Therapy with Spouses, Significant Others, and Best Friends.” Psychotherapy 48.4 (2011): 330-35. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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