Self-disclosures and case formulation

Virginia Failoni, Tiziana Passarella, Felix Inchausti, Raffaele Popolo, Giancarlo Dimaggio


Therapists self-disclose when they reveal personal information to the patient.
Literature reports motivations for using self-disclosure and which information is
more appropriate for this purpose. In spite of the potential usefulness of this
strategy, indications about how to make it are often unclear and contradict each
other. There is no a current and consistent rationale for deciding when to selfdisclose
and with which purposes. In particular, information is lacking about how
to deliver self-disclosure on the basis of case-formulation. We contend here that in
order to self-disclose therapists must form predictions about what benefits they
could achieve thanks to an understanding of patients’ maladaptive interpersonal
schemas, interpersonal cycles active in session, patients’ metacognitive capacities
and the motives that guide the patients in each specific moment. A detailed case
example is used in order to explain how Metacognitive Interpersonal therapists
deliver self-disclosure on the basis of a fine-grained case formulation. Finally, we
suggest how this rationale can be adopted by clinicians of any orientation in order
to operate self-disclosure that are, at the same time, genuine and well-formalized.


self-disclosure; therapeutic relationship; case formulation; metacognition; therapeutic alliance.

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