There is no easy answer to that question, as everybody has a different comfort level with self-disclosure. As a clinician, I have usually only discovered where to draw the line after I have stepped over it. Some people are comfortable including their clients in their personal lives, and even inviting them over to their houses. I have always wanted to keep my work and home life separate.
Although it is a personal choice, here are a few things to consider:
- Are you sharing information for your benefit or your client's? It's OK to share a situation you have experienced that is similar to what your client is going through, if your reason is that you want to help him or her learn from your experiences. It is not OK to vent because it makes you feel better.
- Laughing at yourself can be a great rapport builder. If I spill coffee on myself on my way to see a client, I always have a good laugh at my own expense when I tell my client what happened. These experiences help you to appear genuine and approachable.
- If you disclose contact information, expect your client to use it. This gets a little more tricky now that there is social media to consider. If you become facebook friends, be prepared to receive messages and chat. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop working with a client when you have had a close relationship. Sharing contact information can seem like an easier way of breaking that tie. Just be prepared for your client to contact you.
- If you close yourself off from your client, your client will know, and will respond likewise.
What are your thoughts on self-disclosure?