Department

Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Spring 3-31-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Dissertation

Advisors

Jean Birbilis

Abstract

How much personal information a therapist shares with a client has long been controversial and is approached in a multitude of ways by practitioners. Most of the literature on therapist self-disclosure focuses on verbal admissions, yet it is understood therapists nonverbally share information about themselves by their appearance, dress, and decor. This study aimed to shed light on how therapists conceptualize and experience “ring-finger self-disclosure”: the disclosure made when they wear, or do not wear, a wedding band or engagement ring. A qualitative approach was utilized and 19 in-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted with college and university therapists. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided the data analysis, resulting in five superordinate themes and 24 themes. The superordinate themes were: 1) Seeming unimportance of ring-finger self-disclosure, 2) Ring-finger self-disclosure beliefs shaped by setting, 3) Ring-finger self-disclosure experienced within therapy, 4) Ring communicates messages to self and others, and 5) Wearing ring brings benefits. Results demonstrate the need for therapists to bring increased awareness and study to the ways in which ring-finger self-disclosure shapes therapeutic encounters. Key findings, study strengths and limitations, implications for practice, and recommendations are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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