Effect of counselor self-disclosure of religious similarity on client perception of empathy within the therapeutic relationship: an analogue study
This analogue study was intended to investigate the impact of a specific counselor intervention, self-disclosure, on therapeutic empathy and working alliance by exposing 189 participants from a large Midwestern university to one of four randomly assigned conditions featuring a sex-matched, simulated counseling interaction. Participants' video-stimuli ratings were analyzed by a series of planned comparisons and ANCOVAs.;Planned comparisons revealed that Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) ratings were significantly higher for the mean of the combined self-disclosure treatment groups than for the non-disclosure control and that mean WAI ratings for the matched religious self-disclosure condition were significantly higher than for the control. When analyzed via ANCOVA, partialling out significant covariates, the mean of the combined treatment groups was significantly higher than that of the control for each dependent measure (WAI, Accurate Empathy Scale, and Empathic Understanding Scale). The findings indicated that counselor self-disclosure can have a positive impact on the therapeutic relationship. Implications for research, training, and counseling are discussed.