Self-Disclosure through Sharing with the Public

By Sirin, Ahmet | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Self-Disclosure through Sharing with the Public


Sirin, Ahmet, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Self-disclosure is a rather difficult skill for both the counselor and the counselee in the psychological counseling process. In this study, the self-disclosure skill, which is an important concept in psychological counseling, and sharing with the public, i.e. with other people, will be studied.

The data for the study, which is of a qualitative nature, are composed of letters sent to the "Guzin Abla" (Agony Aunt) column of the Hurriyet newspaper. Letters sent to the Agony Aunt column in the first half of 2005 were compiled, they were examined using content analysis of qualitative methods, and it was tried to reveal the self-disclosure skills in these letters.

The subjects of the letters vary in themselves. It was seen that the newspaper readers shared many matters with the author and other readers.

It is expected that the findings obtained in this study would provide beneficial information for counselors and for the counseling education, and help counselors to get to know counselees better.

Keywords: Psychological counseling, self-disclosure, public, education

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Self-disclosure has long been a topic of interest in the counseling and psychotherapy literature, in an effort to provide a more contemporary perspective on the role of self-disclosure in counseling (Watkins, 1990).

Establishment and maintenance of interpersonal relations is dependent on use of a number of communication skills. One of these communication skills is the self-disclosure. Skills used in interpersonal processes in general, and in counseling process in particular, are quite important.

Self disclosure is an important part of communication. It adds excitement and develops intimacy within our relationships because we are communicating information about ourselves.

Ivey and Authier defined behaviors used by the counselor in psychological counseling and the elements underlying the behaviors as micro-skills. If a counselor becomes specialized in micro skills, he/she can use them skillfully for assistance to the counselor (Ivey and Authier, 1978). These skills are listed and tried to be explained below:

1. Simple Acceptance and Encouraging,

2. Ensuring attention,

3. Body language

4. Silence (listening),

5. Open- and close-ended questions,

6. Reflection of the content,

7. Disclosure of feelings,

8. Reflection of feelings,

9. Self-disclosure,

10. Confrontation.

These are the primary skills related to counseling. As the counselor becomes more and more skilled in psychological counseling, he/she will assist counselees using these and similar skills comprehensively. It was found that the counseling skills are used not only in counseling interviews but in private lives as well and that they are beneficial for everyone (Sirin, 1994).

The counselors may share examples from their own lives for the purpose to show counselees that they are not alone, and other people also experience similar things in life. The counselee feels relieved, seeing that the self-disclosing counselor is also a person with all positive and negative aspects. Self-disclosure of the counselor should take a short time and be intended to assist the counselee. It should be borne in mind that the important thing is not the problems and thoughts of counselors, but exploration of problems of counselees and solutions for these problems. Benefits of self-disclosure of the counselee are as follows:

* Feeling of confidence,

* Sharing,

* Feeling relieved,

* Development of respect.

We can talk about two types of disclosure: information about the private life, and thoughts and feelings relating to that specific moment. Specialized counselors find a middle way between short and long disclosure of themselves. Self-disclosure skill is one that is used in the future stages of the counselor's professional life.

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