Impact of the Therapist’s “Use of Self”

Andrew M. Sleater, Julie Scheiner


The aim of this research was to explore the therapist’s “use of self” to gain an understanding of this phenomenon through the participants’ lived experience. A literature review yielded a number of common themes associated with “use of self”: self-disclosure, personality, intersubjectivity, relationality, attachment, belief systems, and embodiment. The study comprised of semi-structured interviews conducted with six experienced and accredited clinicians. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used, as it facilitated the objectives of the research, which were to capture the lived experience of the clinicians, identify common themes, and observe for any new insights. The authors found three superordinate themes in relation to the therapist’s “use of self”, all of which are intertwined: connection, awareness and wellness. The research supports the fact that the therapist’s “use of self” has an impact on therapy. While connection and awareness feature strongly in the literature, the importance of wellness is not highlighted. The authors propose that an obligate symbiosis exists between awareness and wellness.


use of self; relationships; awareness; wellness; conflict