Many clinicians share their own experiences with clients in the hopes of demystifying therapy and creating a collaborative treatment relationship. As well, in these times, therapeutic boundaries have loosened with virtual therapy, or in new locations outdoors; the pandemic, widespread recognition of social injustices, and imperatives to be open about “racial” and social identities. Some clients have found it important and easier to ask how their therapists are doing. New information about clients' living situations, as well as therapists', can show up on zoom or emerge during phone sessions. Clients and clinicians are experiencing the pandemic and social and political upheaval together in real time.
Disclosures have the potential to both heal and harm. In this experiential workshop (with both small and large group activities), participants will learn under what circumstances therapist transparency is legitimate and useful and when it carries risks, including interrupting the flow and tone of therapy, crossing established boundaries, and triggering a client's fear that the clinician isn't “there” for her, their, him. Participants will come away with 11 guidelines for making self-disclosure a safe, clinically helpful part of the therapeutic process.
1. Participants will be able to identify 4 ways therapist self-disclosure can be helpful in therapy (e.g. for joining, normalizing processes of therapy, shifting hierarchy, working more collaboratively, etc.).
2. Participants can list and explain 3 ways therapist self-disclosure can be harmful and unethical in therapy.
3. Participants will be be able to name and discuss 4-5 guidelines for ethical therapist self-disclosure with clear explanations and rationale.
4. Participants can describe 3 features of their therapeutic position in regards to using self-disclosure as a tool in therapy.
Dr. Janine Roberts is Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and former president of AFTA (American Family Therapy Academy). She has been a clinician for 40 years in multiple settings, and directed the doctoral and masters programs in family therapy at UMass for 25 years. Janine authored Tales and Transformations: Stories in Families and Family Therapy (Norton Press); coauthored Rituals for Our Times: Celebrating, Healing, and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships (Jason Aronson); coedited Rituals in Families and Family Therapy (Norton Press); and has written some seventy articles and chapters, and a poetry book, The Body Alters (Slate Roof Press). She has had two Fulbrights to Latin America and works frequently there as well as other parts of the world.
9:00 to 10:00: Introductions to each other; creating our learning group. Intro and discussion on how therapist and client disclosures have shifted during this pandemic time as well as ways we inadvertently disclose all the time as therapists. Overview (with clinical examples) of ways in which therapist self- disclosures can be helpful and harmful, or both at the same time.
10:00 to 11:00: Small group exercises on participants' experiences growing up with self-disclosure, secrets, and confidentiality, and in their workplace(s). Presentation of 11 guidelines for helpful therapist self-disclosures particularly in a time of teletherapy. Discussion of the guidelines and adding other ones.
11:00 to 12:00: Small group exercises on participants' experiences growing up in regards to their social identities, and how their social identities and lived experiences affect their use of self-disclosure as a therapeutic tool.
Reflection and discussion about ways people will explore making changes to their current work given ideas shared in this workshop. Closing words.
CONTINUING EDUCATION POLICIES
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Accommodations for the Differently Abled
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Continuing education credit is awarded by Commonwealth Educational Seminars for the following disciplines:
Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Social Workers. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for Social Workers. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Social Workers completing this program will receive 3.0 clinical hours of clinical continuing education credit.
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