Week 4 Discussion Question (250-300 words)
Empathy is the ability of individuals to listen to and understand the thoughts, feelings,
beliefs, and experiences of others and to communicate such understanding. Carl
Rogers (1951) defined it as the ability to “assume . . . the internal frame of reference of
the client himself as he sees it . . . and to communicate something of this emphatic
understanding to the client.”
Research shows that an empathetic therapeutic relationship between the client and the
clinician can improve treatment outcomes. However, the therapeutic relationship is
complex and poses distinct ethical challenges within the treatment of substance use
disorders. Clinicians in recovery are often drawn to work in the field because of their
own recovery and empathetic understanding, which presents unique ethical dilemmas.
Discuss the pros and cons of self-disclosure and how it may benefit or hinder the
therapeutic relationship between the clinician and client.
Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications, and
theory. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Books: Becoming an additions counselor (Myers, chegg account) and the document attached from the
book of ethics.
Please reply to the following 2 posts.
Self-disclosure can be useful in the client’s relationship with their therapist. It can be
useful in the client feeling a kinship with the therapist. However, the therapist has a fine
line between providing the client with enough of information from their personal story
and providing too much information. The therapist if also in recovery, should not share
war stories or try to compete with the client in any way. The therapeutic relationship
should not be one where the therapist confesses or vents their feelings (Peter L.
Meyers, Norman R. Salt 2019). The relationship should always remain professional
however the therapist should show empathy and relatability. The reduction of alcohol
and drug use can be attributed to an empathetic therapist that attentively listens
(Cynthis M.A. Geppert, Laura Weiss Roberts 2008).
An advantage to using self- disclosure would be that it solidifies the therapeutic
relationship. Self- disclosure can help the client to identify and build a relationship with
the therapist (Cynthis M.A. Geppert, Laura Weiss Roberts 2008). A downside would be
that the boundaries may become blurred. A therapist could run the risk of over
identifying with the client and run the risk of a dual relationship (Cynthis M.A. Geppert,
Laura Weiss Roberts 2008). In the therapeutic relationship, self-disclosure needs to
have a balance. Differing opinions are on both sides with non-recovering and recovering
therapist. It is the opinion of non-recovering therapist that self-disclosure of the
recovering therapist sets them with a disadvantage (Peter L. Meyers, Norman R. Salt
It is the opinion of this student, that very little self-disclosure is necessary to develop a
trusting relationship with the client. Empathy and acceptance accounts for a lot when
building the relationship. Letting the client recognize that they are accepted and in a
judgement free zone helps to put the client at ease.
Therapists who are warm, honest, and empathic with their clients are more likely to see
good improvements in their clients’ behavior. High levels of client empathy in the
therapeutic relationship have been proven to increase treatment and post-treatment
success rates. Clients with SUD are frequently isolated due to their alcohol and drug
usage, and it requires someone loving and sincere to guide them out of their dark
places. At times, a strong therapeutic partnership can make all the difference (Geppert
& Roberts, 2008).
While the therapeutic relationship has many benefits, it can also be harmful if it is not
handled carefully. Long-term recovery counselors account for more than half of all SUD
counselors. At times, this can be both a hindrance and a benefit. Self-disclosure is
frequently used as a therapeutic strategy by counselors in long-term rehabilitation since
it has been demonstrated to increase trust and understanding. In other cases, it might
cause injury as a result of the client’s negative emotions, such as shock that their
counselor is in recovery or competition (Geppert & Roberts, 2008).
When using self-disclosure, SUD counselors must be aware of the ethical issues that
can arise, such as blurring boundaries and encountering clients outside of therapy.
Appropriate boundaries, such as the therapist not disclosing too much of their own
personal recovery and the absence of formality, help to maintain professional lines
clear. Counselors sometimes work in tiny, rural areas with a limited number of support
groups to whom clients are referred to as well. This could jeopardize the confidentiality
of both the client and the counselor. The last point to consider is relapse, which can
occur in counselors as well, resulting in more guilt and humiliation, in turn causing
counselors to not seek appropriate help (Geppert & Roberts, 2008).
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