Self-Disclosure in the Therapeutic Relationship

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The editors of the present volume were also privileged to collaborate on an earlier book, Intimacy, also published by Plenum Press. In our pref- ace to that volume, we described the importance and essence of inti- macy and its centrality in the domain of human relationships. After reading the contributions to that volume, a number of issues emerged and pressed for elaboration. These questions concerned the nature and parameters of intimacy. The natural extension of these con- cerns can be found in the current work, Self-Disclosure in the Therapeutic Relationship. The editors, after careful consideration of the theoretical, philo- sophical, and technical literature, are impressed by the relationship between intimacy and appropriate self-disclosure. Self-disclosure, in this context, refers to those behaviors that allow oneself to be suffi- ciently revealing so as to become available for an intimate relationship. Levenson has referred to psychotherapy as the demystification of expe- rience wherein intimacy emerges during the time that interpersonal vigilance diminishes through growing feelings of safety. Interpersonal experience can be demystified and detoxified by disclosure, openness, and authentic relatedness. This is not an easy process. Before one can be open, make contact, or reach out with authenticity, one must be available to oneself. This means making contact with-and accepting-the dark, fearful, and of- ten untouched areas within the person that are often hidden even from oneself. The process of therapy enables those areas to gain conscious- ness, be tolerated, and be shared with trusted others.