Does Sharing Therapeutic Experiences with Others Provide Benefits?

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jackson Pruitt

    Jackson Pruitt

    December 28th, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    I am way too private of a person to feel like disclosing. If I did not have this problem to begin with then I probably would not have to other issues that I am dealing with today too. I just don’t feel like there are going to be that many other people who will understand the things that I am feeling or who will continue to support and accept me if they knew the thoughts that I had sometimes. My therapist is kind of my safe place, and that is not something that I am terribly ready to share with anyone else, nor do I think that my therapy process would be any more productive if I did.

  • janepugh


    December 29th, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    I can’t imagine wanting to not share anything I talked about in therapy with my nearest and dearest. If you’re that close to me, I have no problem disclosing fully what’s going on behind closed doors. Would the therapist have a problem with that? I wonder.

  • Liz Kemp

    Liz Kemp

    December 29th, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    I know I’d have a problem with that, particularly in this Facebook and Twitter obsessed world. What if I tell my sister something about it in confidence and she was to slip up and post about it on a social network? She wouldn’t do it deliberately but she can be thoughtless of the consequences of her actions. I’d be horrified. What’s said between me and my therapist is between us and that’s how I like it.

  • G.M.


    December 29th, 2011 at 4:52 AM

    “What’s said between me and my therapist is between us and that’s how I like it.” Me too!

    I’m not into all this sharing every minute detail of your life with faceless “friends” who probably can’t remember who the heck you are anymore. Social networking gives me the creeps. It’s like a legitimate form of stalking. I like my privacy, thanks.

  • Janna


    December 29th, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    I ca definitely see how talking to other friends and family member about the things that you have been working on in therapy could be of benefit to people going through something like this. If you feel like you cannot divulge to the ones in your life that you are closest to then you may feel roped off and afraid to proceed further. It is noce to know that you have someone you can hash things over with who is not in that therapist role, just that you have a friend who will listen and who cares. Another thing is that this could become someone who will help you when times get tough again, and it is noce to always have that bit of extra support when you need it.

  • P. Farmer

    P. Farmer

    December 29th, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    I feel it’s good to share how it’s going with friends and family. My family has other members that would benefit from therapy but see it as being too big a step to take. They like to pretend they are just fine – ha! LOL.

    Seriously though, when you talk to them about your own therapy it demystifies the process. I can see a glimpse of interest in them.

  • tiara


    December 30th, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    I wouldn’t want to discuss my experience in therapy with anyone..not during the course of the therapy.afterwards maybe-if it turns out good then I wouldn’t mind speaking about it but never before that.I wouldn’t feel comfortable at all..

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