Well…”comfortable” is the wrong word. Even simply writing the title of this article makes me acutely UNcomfortable…like I’m violating a very significant law of the Universe. I was trained, as most psychotherapists, that you do not disclose personal information about yourself to your clients. This is “the rule” for lots of really good reasons, but mainly because it’s not about the therapist. It’s about the client. I 100% agree with that and I am nothing if not a rule follower so that’s what I have done.
That being said, when the question of should therapists disclose personal information is posed, I think the answer is a bit more complicated.
In the therapy room, I am pretty tight-lipped about my life. Again, for lots of very good reasons, but mainly because it’s not about me. And I believe that and that has worked really well. That being said, I don’t refuse to answer when someone asks if I’m married, how far along I am in a pregnancy, etc because those things are visible. And I don’t respond in a super vague, potentially awkward way when someone is simply making perfectly acceptable small talk. I value being authentic more than I value 100% non-disclosure so in these incidents, I feel perfectly comfortable being brief and honest…and that has served me well too.
But what about here, blogging, which is representative of this digital world in general? Which arguably has become almost as expansive and possibly important as the “real” world we actually live in? Some might say the same rules apply…but I disagree.
Social media, specifically, and the internet in a more broad sense, has made everything so PUBLIC and accessible, which is exactly why it makes some people nervous. People who are moe private squirm at the idea of their stuff being out there for all the world to see. While other people LOVE having an audience whenever they want one. And then there’s everything and everyone in between.
While I’m not an exceptionally private person, the idea of how having your “stuff” out there can feel scary absolutely resonates with me. Raw honesty – whether it’s a blog post, a sensitive picture or a Facebook status – makes us feel very vulnerable. I experienced this vulnerability all of the time during this last year that I’ve been writing online. But really, I’ve disclosed very little of substance.
I write about my struggles with parenting. But that’s everyone on the planet – certainly not a revelation. I’ve written about how I can experience anxiety. Again, that doesn’t feel like anything extraordinary. I’ve written about how I am a cancer survivor, which is dipping my toe in the water of disclosure a bit more, but still…I take pride in that. And it’s certainly not a secret given my active role in the cancer community. My point is that none of what I have disclosed feels like much of a risk. Not really. I haven’t taken any risks of this nature because I still have it in the back of my head that I shouldn’t do that. I still worry too much about what my colleagues will think.
But I’m done with that.
I spend most of my days encouraging people to be their authentic selves. To worry less about what others think of them. To embrace every experience they’ve ever gone through and figure out how to learn from it. To not sequester certain experiences or parts of themselves to underground dungeons, never to be seen or heard from again.
And yet, that’s what I’ve been doing on this blog.
Living my life – WRITING about my life – as if I don’t have a past. Or at least pretending like certain aspects of my past aren’t still a part of me. Or that this isn’t the place for them. But that’s just not true. And I’m done pretending like that’s the case.
So from here on out, I’m just going to be honest about my life. Not just for the sake of being honest – I don’t want this blog to be the Colleen show. But if I think that somebody can possibly learn something, or be inspired, or question their own behavior, as a result, then I’m going to be forthcoming and straightforward about my experiences.
Now why on earth does that sound like such a big deal??
What do you think? If you read something deeply personal about your therapist online, would it make you feel more connected to them? Uncomfortable? Something else entirely? I want to know! Fill me in on my Faceback page.
Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, trauma expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, wife and Mommy of two little ones. She has a practice in Chicago’s Loop and Oak Park. To schedule an appointment with her, please visit: http://www.cirapsyd.com/