15 Jul 2014
Should Therapists Have Full Transparency With Their Clients?
I have been thinking a lot lately about traditional therapy versus popular therapy. Therapy has always followed the same basic model. You come to see me. Tell me the most intimate details of your life. I listen maybe take notes and reveal as little as humanly possible about myself. Am I married? “Why do you want to know?” Do I have kids? “If I did have kids what would you think about that?” Did I have a nice holiday? “How does it feel that I didn’t answer your question?” We were the “blank screen”. You project your issues onto us and we work on them together. You are angry not at me but at your projected image of me (namely your mother).
But things are different now. I mean, there have been many trends in psychotherapy over the years but these days even the most old school of psychoanalysts aren’t immune to the new age of public information. Are you friends with your shrink on Facebook? Follow them on twitter? (I am on both.) And how does our digital age affect therapist/client boundaries? How do therapists maintain their objective neutrality when their clients can Google them or see if they checked in at their favorite restaurant on foursquare. We just know more about each other now. What was once a blank screen is now a feature length film (or at least a preview of one).
I feel fortunate to have found theoretical frameworks that allow me to work as my authentic self in sessions with clients. My clients do not know everything about my life obviously, but I do feel they know me. I believe strongly that when you put two people in a room both are affected and working in relation to the other, even if one is client and one is therapist.
Recently the NY times posted a piece about therapists allowing their clients to read their session notes as well. You can read about this here. I am still trying to decide if I feel this would be ultimately helpful or confusing to the relationship. We have gone further and further from the traditional model but is it worth holding on to any part of it? Should everything be transparent?
Does it hurt the therapeutic boundaries to know more about your therapist personal life (via online sources)? Would you want to read your session notes?
I would love to start a dialogue. Leave your comments here.