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Page Contents: The effects on a client by a psychotherapist’s self-disclosure about her own depression and medication.                    


My concern is that my new psychotherapist of about 5 months, a Psy.D, has told me she suffers from depression and an anxiety disorder, takes antidepressant medication, and has told me about her emotionally distant mother. Is this OK for me? My previous therapist of many years died unexpectedly and was reluctant to say much about herself unless it was more in context of helping me. I like this new therapist a lot. She has helped me through the grieving process, and obviously cares about my mental health. I have clinical depression and anxiety. She knows what I am feeling; it’s obvious she knows not just because of book learning but because she has had similar feelings. Do I need to be concerned about her boundaries?

Using good clinical judgment, a psychotherapist can at times set aside therapeutic neutrality and use self-disclosure as a clinical tool to inspire and encourage a client.

For example, imagine if a psychotherapist were to say something like this: “I came from a dysfunctional family and suffered emotionally as a child with self-doubt and uncertainty and had periods of depression. Through my studies and through my own psychotherapy I learned to overcome my resentments at my parents, my unconscious anger, my victim mentality, and my experiences of depression—and I did it all without any psychiatric medication. So I’m fully prepared to help you do the same.”

That would be inspiring, wouldn’t it? But your psychotherapist didn’t do that. Instead, she self-disclosed her failure.

Your psychotherapist essentially told you that she was unable to get to the unconscious core of her problems and has resigned herself to suppressing her symptoms with medication. There’s no encouragement in that outlook on life. Her “boundaries” will fence you in rather than protect you from the dangers of the world.

So, will this so-called “therapist” be of any therapeutic help for you? Well, it depends on what you want your life to become. If you want to get to the unconscious core of your symptoms and heal them as I describe on this website, then you would be better served by someone who can offer you more hope than you have been offered in the last five months. But if you are content with merely suppressing symptoms and surviving—rather than living—then stay with what you have.



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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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