Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 89–105 | Cite as

Developing Effectiveness in the Therapeutic Use of Self

  • Jana K. Edwards
  • Jennifer M. Bess


Traditional technique guided the effective psychotherapist more toward restraint of self than active use of self. Contemporary trends in technique are moving more toward encouraging the therapist to be aware of and use his or her “real” self in the relationship with clients, in other words to loosen the rigors of anonymity and neutrality in service of genuine relating and its attendant growth-enhancing potential. The authors of this paper offer the argument that the application of what you know as a psychotherapist (that is the accumulation of knowledge and techniques from professional education and training) can only be helpful and effective if you are aware of how who you are as a person in the room with the client (that is the accumulation of your own personality traits, personal belief systems, and psychology in the relational matrix with the client) is influencing the therapy. Support for this argument from the clinical literature provides the theoretical bases for three processes outlined in the paper which will guide the effective psychotherapist in integrating the personal self with the professional and technical self: 1) inventory of self; 2) development of self-knowledge; and 3) acceptance of risks to self.

therapist's personality self-knowledge use of self intersubjectivity mutuality 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana K. Edwards
    • Jennifer M. Bess
      • 1
    1. 1.Englewood

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