NCS | A mixed methods study of the impact of therapist self-disclosure

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Information for members

As of the 15th of May 2023, we have officially changed our name to the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS).

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You are invited to take part in this study because you are a practicing counsellor/therapist who has experienced self-disclosure from your therapist during personal therapy sessions. This Information will hopefully explain what is involved, but if you need further clarification, then please do not hesitate to contact me using the contact details below.

What is the purpose of the study?

This research is part of a Professional Doctorate in Counselling and Psychotherapy Studies / Psychological Trauma that I am undertaking at the University of Chester. I am interested in finding out about therapist self-disclosure relating to a similar shared experience that has occurred outside of the therapy room, commonly termed non-immediate disclosure from the perspective of the client. I would be interested in exploring your view on, and experience of, this.

What will happen to me if I take part?

To enable this, if you decide to take part, I will arrange a time to interview you face-to-face at your convenience. Your written consent will be obtained through the enclosed consent form. The interview will be digitally recorded and take approximately one hour. You will be sent short extracts of their interview after analysis for close scrutiny and comment. This would be done using email and you would be asked to offer their own interpretation of the researchers’ findings, voicing their opinions in response to short extracts of in vivo quotations provided, it is anticipated this will take approximately one hour. In addition, should you choose to you will be sent a preliminary analysis of your interview which will include short extracts. You would then be offered the opportunity to discuss this with the researcher.

The interview will be semi-structured and be focused around the following questions:

• How long have you been a therapist?

• What organisations have you worked in?

• What modality do you use?

• What is your stance on therapist self-disclosure?

• Did this stance alter depending on the therapeutic setting?

• Was your personal therapy part of your course requirements, for personal development or was it an issue you were looking to work through?

• How long were you in therapy for?

• Could you describe for me how you felt your relationship with your counsellor was initially, that is before the self-disclosure? What was happening in sessions and your thoughts and feelings about your counsellor?

• Could you please describe your therapist’s self-disclosure of a similar shared experience? That is, a time when your therapist told you information about his or her life outside of the counselling room that was comparable to your own?

• Can you describe your thoughts and feelings while the counsellor was telling you about this?

• Can you describe how you felt your relationship with your counsellor was after hearing this?

• What happened in the session afterwards?

• Where there any other instances of therapist self-disclosure?

• Can you describe if the experience had any impact on your own counselling process?

• How do you feel about your counselling experience?

• Do you believe the therapist’s self-disclosure had any impact on the result of your therapy, if so, how would you describe this impact?

• What was most beneficial about your counsellor’s self-disclosure?

• What was least beneficial about the experience?

• Is there anything you would like to add that you feel is important and hasn’t been covered?

Once the interview is complete, the digital recording will be transcribed. Your transcript will be allocated a pseudonym of your choice to protect your anonymity and any identifying features in the data will be deleted. Every effort will be made to ensure that transcriptions do not contain material that could directly or indirectly identify you, however there is a small chance that deductive disclosure could occur.

Your right to withdraw without prejudice

You have every right to withdraw from the research at any time, without prejudice, up until the point that the thesis has begun to be written up which is anticipated to be July 2017. I will let you know when that is. Once the writing-up has begun, it will be impossible to remove your data as it will be aggregated, making your data more difficult to identify.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

I cannot foresee any disadvantages or risks to taking part, except the cost of your time. If, for any reason, personal issues are stirred for you, I am able to furnish you with a details of how to access the BACP database which contains a list of suitably qualified therapists in your locality whom you may be able to access at your own expense.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

The experience will give you time to reflect on your work, and to share your thoughts. This may contribute to something greater at research and policy level.

What if something goes wrong?

In accordance with the University of Chester Research governance Handbook (2014) in the unlikely event “that you are harmed by taking part in the research, there are no special compensation arrangements”. I will do everything within my ability to ensure your safety and confidentiality. However, if you are not happy with any aspect of the research process, please raise it with me. If you feel unable to approach me for any reason or after speaking with me you are still not happy, you may raise your issue with my Research Supervisor, Dr Nikki Kiyimba: Email: at the University of Chester:

If you are still unhappy with things, you may then raise it with the Dean of Faculty, Professor David Balsamo: Email:

Will my taking part in the study be kept confidential, and how will my data be stored?

The fact that you are taking part in the research, and everything that you share, will remain confidential. In the unlikely event that a disclosure of a boundary violation is raised, the interview would be discontinued; while you consider the disclosure and decide whether to report the event to your therapists professional body, and I would convey the decision to my research supervisor. Current codes of ethics and many practice codes include a requirement to report colleagues whose conduct breaches the code (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy [BACP], 2007). If it was considered that a boundary violation may have taken place and you wished to report this, details of where you might find appropriate support would be provided to assist you through this process. In the unlikely event that Child Protection issues are raised, I may have to alert Social Services or Police, but otherwise, what you share will form part of the data which will be anonymised by use of a pseudonym of your choice. The data will be stored securely in locked premises, and kept encrypted on a password protected computer. Only I, and my Research Supervisor, will have access to the anonymised data. The data will be destroyed (shredded or electronically deleted) after five years, in keeping with the data protection act.

What will happen to the results of the research study?

The completed research will be stored (bound and electronic) at the University of Chester. The research will be disseminated in future publications and at conferences.

Whom may I contact for further information?

I, the researcher, am: Colleen Swinden

My contact details are:

Thank you for your interest in this research.

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