Clinical Psychology Training and Therapist Self-Disclosure: The Role of the Supervisor

Prof Doc Thesis

Kearns, I. 2019. Clinical Psychology Training and Therapist Self-Disclosure: The Role of the Supervisor. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsKearns, I.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

There is a wealth of theoretical debate and research on the use of therapist self-disclosure (TSD) within psychotherapy. Research finds that TSD can serve a variety of clinical purposes within the therapeutic relationship, from modelling coping strategies to strengthening the alliance. But findings also indicate therapists need to use TSD appropriately, responding sensitively to the context and with forethought about the purpose of using it. The author knows of no published guidelines or frameworks, specifically regarding TSD, to draw on when working as a Clinical Psychologist in National Health Service mental health settings. This issue is relevant when considering the psychologist-in-training, who makes use of a of variety clinical skills on placement under the supervision of a qualified psychologist.
This qualitative study explores the processes by which supervisors approach self-disclosure with Trainee Clinical Psychologists. Ten qualified Clinical Psychologists were interviewed about their views on TSD and how they discuss it with trainees in supervision. Thematic analysis was used to elucidate four dominant themes emerging from the interviews: The supervisor within context; Process of TSD with trainees, Tensions on placement, A desire for something different.
Findings revealed that supervisors felt there to be a lack of adequate training around TSD for psychologists, and participants expressed a wish for more teaching and systematic thinking on TSD within training and throughout the profession. Experiences of TSD varied according to the supervisor’s personal and professional context and how they approached it with trainees in supervision varied from direct proactive approaches to a more responsive stance. This was also influenced by the supervisory relationship and power dynamic, as well as the task of supervising within an evaluative context.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online24 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Jul 2020
SubmittedMay 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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