Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jeff Nepute, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Tracy Moran Vozar, Ph.D.


Therapist self-disclosure, College students, Mandated treatment, Therapeutic alliance, Case study

Publication Statement

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Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.


Facing the stark reality of a disturbing mental health crisis present in the college populations of the United States, college counseling centers (CCC) must figure out ways in which they can utilize all of their available limited resources, especially regarding potential high-risk students who are unlikely to seek treatment and those that pose a danger to self or others. In certain cases, mandated treatment can potentially mitigate or eliminate crises, and may serve as an effective intervention to students whose risky behavior may be normalized within the culture of colleges across the United States. However, while this course of treatment may be a useful way to ensure that these high-risk students are connected to a therapist in their counseling center, mandating treatment does not guarantee positive treatment outcomes. In fact, this setting creates numerous, highly specific factors that serve as potential barriers to progress when compared with voluntary treatment.

In spite of these difficulties, proper and careful use of therapist self-disclosure (TSD) - the revealing of personal information, thoughts, or feelings to a client - has the potential to be a uniquely powerful intervention for college counselors, as it addresses many of the specific issues involved with mandated therapy directly. This paper aims to review the literature on the current state of CCCs, psychological perspectives regarding the overall effectiveness of TSD, proposed classification systems to help determine appropriate and inappropriate implementations of TSD, and how this information can be applied specifically within mandated settings. In addition, this will be followed by a case study that outlines examples of the use of TSD with mandated college students, reflecting some of the potential benefits and risks associated with the intervention. While TSD in these cases generally led to the accelerated building of a positive therapeutic relationship, there were also clear instances in which disclosure may have produced adverse effects. Thus, an examination of the current literature and the specifics of this case study highlights the importance of conducting additional research on the proper implementation of TSD when treating mandated college students. Additional research in this area should focus on providing college counselors with superior training regarding TSD and clearer guidelines with the aim of effectively and efficiently addressing the issues facing their students.


42 pgs

Paper Method

Case Study