Social workers are likely to encounter many challenges in practice and it is significant for them to handle the challenges in a professional manner. In the case of the Petrakis Family, Hellen is angry with the social worker since she blames her for Alec’s situation. As Hellen’s social worker, the first thing I would do is de-escalate the situation; since Hellen is in an irrational state, it is not possible at that time to solve the problem. It will be helpful to press pause on whatever the original focus of the session was intended to be, and focus on why she is angry and how they can remedy that (Plummer, Makris & Brocksen, 2014). At that moment I would feel worried and hesitant in dealing with the issue since it can escalate the tension. To maintain a professional demeanor, it would be more important to have very clear, tight boundaries about many things, including anger. As a social worker, it is my responsibility to keep both myself and the client safe and do all I can to assist Hellen.

Self-disclosure will also be useful in working with Hellen. It will help in building a space that is safe for her to express any kind of feeling she has and to talk, in detail, about her experience. To do this, I have to make sure no one judges anyone else or criticizes anyone else, or offers advice. Since Hellen is angry, I will sit and listen, and I might ask questions about her problems, but I will not judge or tell her she is wrong. I will use self-disclosure to build rapport, give real-world examples, and help the Hellen believe in solutions. But I have to be careful. Too much self-disclosure can seem uncomfortable to the Hellen. The session also needs to be centered on the client and their issues (Hill, Knox & Pinto-Coelho, 2018). If there is no self-disclosure by Hellen, then it will be hard to say what therapy can accomplish. Hellen needs to feel safe with me. She has to be able to believe she can talk about the things in her life that she is afraid of without harm. Implicitly, it is my job to keep confidences confidential.

One way people create safety to expose Hellen’s vulnerabilities in real-world relationships is by slowly disclosing more and more about her secrets and shames. Usually, this is done on a mutual basis, with each person exposing themselves a little bit at a time as the other person exposes themselves a little bit at a time (Hill, Knox & Pinto-Coelho, 2018). Sharing vulnerabilities with me is a sign that she trusts me and that the relationship is more mutual, not so one-sided. I think self-disclosure will be an essential element of Hellen’s therapeutic process.


















Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

Hill, C. E., Knox, S., & Pinto-Coelho, K. G. (2018). Therapist self-disclosure and immediacy: A qualitative meta-analysis. Psychotherapy55(4), 445.




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