Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Norman A. Scott


The literature on counselor self-disclosure does not adequately address the questions of what, when, why, how, and to whom counselors should disclose. Because various theoretical orientations have traditionally provided different perspectives on therapist self-disclosure, counselors lack both research-based guidelines for self-disclosing in the research literature, as well as consistent suggestions from theory. Likewise, the ethical implications of counselor self-disclosures punctuate the importance of addressing these questions in order to provide maximally effective treatment while respecting clients' worldviews.

Nowhere is the importance of providing counselors theoretically-consistent, research-based, and ethically-responsible guidance in self-disclosure more pronounced than in multicultural counseling. Whether of racial/ethnic, sexual, religious/spiritual, or other form of diversity, there exists considerable need for guidance in counselor cultural self-disclosures.

This two-part counseling analogue study built upon Young's (2007) investigation of the impact of therapist religious disclosures on ratings of therapeutic processes. Recruited from Iowa State and Bethel Universities, along with Google or Yahoo online groups, 673 participants were exposed to one of four, sex-specific video-stimuli which depicted the simulated counselor making one of the following: a content-congruent financial self-disclosure, a content-incongruent religious self-disclosure, a content-incongruent neutral control response, or a content-congruent religious self-disclosure.

When participants' responses were analyzed via planned comparisons in ANCOVA, the results revealed counselor disclosures were generally rated higher than the neutral control. Furthermore, the findings clarified that those disclosures congruent with client-initiated content were viewed more positively than the neutral response and the incongruent religious disclosure. Planned comparisons revealed that the congruent religious disclosure fostered the highest level of working alliance when compared to the other conditions. Additional findings included: Catholics rating the counselor's empathy higher than Protestants when religion was discussed, sex differences in working alliance scores, and support for the importance of considering client/participant levels of religiosity, spirituality, empathy, and previous counseling experiences when rating therapeutic processes.

The findings indicated that counselor self-disclosure can have a positive impact on ratings of the counselor and the therapeutic relationship. Implications for research, training, and counseling are discussed.


Copyright Owner

Scott Patrick Young



Date Available


File Format


File Size

276 pages

Included in

Psychology Commons