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12. Should you self-disclose

When working with Personal Injury clients it is normal to feel compelled to share our own knowledge and experience. How much should you share? Does self disclosure demonstrate genuine empathy or a lack of boundaries?

Do you ever:

Get confused about whether or not it is a good idea to share your own experiences?

Wonder whether talking about yourself is damaging your professional boundaries?

Feel that not sharing makes you seem lacking in empathy.

Want to share an experience that feels likely to be highly relevant and useful to the client.

While self disclosure can be a useful tool in establishing an alliance and sharing experiences it can also cause difficulties for both the client and Personal injury professional.

So how do you decide whether or not to share? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Why do I want to share? is it because it is useful to the the client? or is it because I want to talk about it?

What do I want to share? Is it an appropriate thing to share? Would I be embarrassed if they told someone else? Am I confident talking about this or am I likely to become upset? Have I worked out exactly how much I want to share? Do I need to seek therapy for this issue?

When would it be helpful to tell them? At what point in our relationship?

How do I share this information with them, might it be more helpful/ safer to tell them that ‘some people find…’ or that you ‘know someone who…’

Am I still uncertain? If so it is worth discussing in supervision or with a colleague.

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