Psychotherapists (like myself) use the term “use of self,” which includes thoughtful self-disclosure, transparency, and sharing aspects of one’s personal self for therapeutic connection.
One of the most powerful factors in therapy is that it involves the intensive relationship between two (or more) human beings. The issues of transparency and self-disclosure therefore become important concerns for therapists; how can they use themselves effectively in their work without transgressing on professional regulations?
I’m going to use myself in the following example of use of self.
Yesterday, I was asked by a doctor to meet with a Spanish-speaking patient whose mother had recently died in the hospital. The meeting included the tearful patient, a hospital interpreter, a social work intern who was observing me, and myself. The patient told me, through the interpreter, that she felt guilty about the death of her mother and also that her doctor had previously suggested she see a therapist for treatment of depression. I assumed that this patient would resist the idea of seeing a therapist for many reasons, including a culture-based stigma about mental health treatment. As we discussed the realities of therapy, I told her she might be surprised how many people saw therapists for helpful support. I decided to self-disclose. “I see a therapist,” I told her. Immediately, the intern revealed, “I see a therapist, too.” The interpreter said — in Spanish and then in English — “I do, also.” All four of us laughed, as I observed that the patient was the only one in the room who was NOT seeing a therapist.
Is there use of self in these photos?
When our world turns upside down, using our selves and our shared humanity can help us stop and connect.
I look forward to my readers’ use of self in the comment section, below.
Speaking for myself, use of self always includes thanking all the selves that help me express myself and — of course! — YOU.