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In psychotherapy or counseling sessions, the patient or client does the "self-disclosing" while the counselor, or therapist listens. The goal is to help the client see things from different perspectives. This allows the client to see and evaluate options he or she may not have thought about, which may give the client more power when making important life decisions. There are several relationship perspectives in self-disclosing information in a counseling session. That of patient to therapist, therapist to patient, supervisor to supervisee, and supervisee to supervisor. Each of these relationships affects the tendency to disclose personal information. The clinical space available for patients to disclose should be far broader than that of the therapist.
Self-disclosure is an important building block for intimacy; intimacy cannot be achieved without it. We expect self-disclosure to be reciprocal and appropriate. Self-disclosure can be assessed on an analysis of cost and rewards which can be further explained by social exchange theory. Most self-disclosure usually occurs early in relational development, but more intimate self-disclosure occurs later. Male and female differences in self-disclosure are mixed. Women self-disclose to enhance a relationship where men self-disclose relative to control and vulnerability. Men initially disclose more in heterosexual relationships. Women tend to put more emphasis on intimate communication with same sex friends than men do.
- ↑ Farber A. Barry. Self Disclosure in Psychotherapy. The Guilford Press. New York. 2006