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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
The Self-Disclosure Dilemma
When should therapists reveal information about themselves?
With Sue Cowan-Jenssen, Dr John O'Connor, Marcus West

Saturday 30 September 2017 - Dublin

Traditionally, psychotherapy has been premised on the principle that the relationship should be focused entirely on the patient's process. Reasons include the fiduciary responsibility to attend to the other, the importance of protecting the patient's space, and the great value of working with transference projections. Recently, however, this convention has been challenged by the relational premise that there are two subjectivities of equal weight in the relationship, each playing their part in what occurs in the therapy. When heightened, entangled or difficult moments occur - it is suggested - it is the therapist's duty to explore how their own process or personal history has been activated. Is there a therapeutic value in communicating some of that experience to the client?

Somewhere in between these two theoretical poles, self-disclosure is seen as not so much a theoretical choice as inevitable. We are unable to conceal so much about ourselves - age, gender and ethnicity, facial expressions, bodily responses and implicit communications. Furthermore, practical concerns such as the therapist's need for time-off to deal with personal difficulties also raise the question of how much information is optimal to share or should be left to fantasy.

Should there be a tightly held theoretical stance on this? Or should the decision to disclose or withhold be based entirely on each patient's unique needs? We have invited three speakers with varying attitudes to deliberate this fascinating dilemma.


Sue Cowan-Jenssen
Sue Cowan-Jenssen is a psychotherapist who has worked in private practice in London for thirty years. She worked part-time for five years as a senior psychotherapist at the Trauma Unit of Watford General Hospital. She has specialist trainings in working with trauma, serious illness and bereavement and is an accredited EMDR Consultant. She is a founder member of the Relational School and the London Psychotherapy and Trauma Centre. She has written for books, journals and websites. Her writing covers a wide range of issues from how psychotherapy works to understanding the impact of our competitive culture on our sense of self. More >>

Dr John O'Connor
John O’ Connor trained as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Dr O Connor worked as a principal clinical psychologist in the area of Adult Mental Health for several years. John is currently Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, as well as course director of the MPhil in Psychoanalytic Studies and the MSc in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, at Trinity College Dublin. John is also involved in supporting students in the conduct of psychoanalytically-informed research with clinicians and clinical populations. He has a private adult psychotherapy practice in Dublin and supervises clinicians. He is particularly interested in the dynamics and ethics of training. More >>

Marcus West
Marcus West is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology. He has taught widely in this country and abroad and was joint winner of the Michael Fordham Prize in 2004. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Analytical Psychology and is currently Chair of Psychotherapy Sussex. He is the author of a number of papers, and three books, Feeling, Being and the Sense of Self, Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice, and Into the Darkest Places - Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind. He works in private practice in Sussex. More >>


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Self-funded: £120
Self-funded x 2: £195
Self-funded x 2: £150 (PSI, IACP, IAHIP and ICP members)
Organisationally-funded: £200

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 5 hours will be provided at the event

Marine Hotel
13 Sutton Cross
Co. Dublin

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:30 Lunch
16:45 End