How Can Self-Disclosure Help in a Counselling Skills Relationship

Self disclosure can have a positive effect during the client’s self-exploration and self-understanding, or it can stop the communication process. On the positive side, when someone shares a personal issue or concern about themselves, it can be a positive experience in the relationship, mainly because the person is saying, "I trust you" and "I am human too." It is possible that the self-disclosure can motivate a person to take some positive action, creating a sense that, if “she” can do it, then perhaps "I" can too. It also encourages the person to share a problem or concern at a deeper level than he would otherwise do.
Therapists self-disclose for a variety of reasons, all of which reflect immediate goals for the therapy process rather than longer-term goals of the therapeutic outcome. Self-disclosure can increase the perceived similarity between themselves and their client, whereby the therapist can:

- Indentify appropriate behaviour or offer alternative ways of thinking and acting- and help them make constructive changes
- Support and strengthen the therapeutic alliance between the parties
- Validate reality or ‘normalise’ the client’s experiences- which reassures a client
- Satisfy clients who wanted therapist disclosure.
- Reassures the client (e.g. because the counsellor ‘got through it’)
- Demonstrate that the client is ‘not alone’
- Makes the counsellor approachable- as it shows you’re a ‘real’ person (congruent)

Self-disclosure performs several functions. It is a way of gaining information about another person. We want to be able to predict the thoughts and actions of people we know. Self-disclosure is one way to learn about how another person thinks and feels. Once one person engages in self-disclosure, it is implied that the other person will also disclose personal information. Mutual disclosure deepens trust in the relationships and helps both people understand each other more. You also come to feel better about yourself and your...