Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type



Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Name

Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Lisa V. Merchant

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Lisa Powell

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Michael Pounds


One challenge therapists face when working with clients is whether or not to self-disclose personal information. Therapists may wonder whether it is ethical, and if so, what types of self-disclosure are appropriate, what impact self-disclosure will have, and how to self- disclose. Although much research exists on the benefits and costs of therapist self- disclosure (TSD), the literature on the decision-making process of TSD is scarce, particularly for marriage and family therapists. The objective of this study was to develop a general theory of the decision-making process surrounding therapist self-disclosure for marriage and family therapists. The researcher developed this theory by conducting qualitative interviews from a convenience sample of marriage and family therapists. From these interviews, the researcher searched for themes regarding TSD and developed a theory based on these themes. This theory includes a therapist’s personal philosophy of TSD, in addition to common thoughts and feelings occurring before, during, and after the self-disclosure. This theory may inform other marriage and family therapists in two ways. First, it may normalize the decision-making process for them if they experience a process similar to that of the sample. Second, it will give marriage and family therapists a template of what to consider when deciding to self-disclose to clients.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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