When is Self-Disclosure Appropriate in Recovery Support?

full disclosure campfire stories

For a host of good reasons, addiction treatment centers hire, educate and promote some employees who are in long-term recovery. This hiring practice fosters an accepting environment. And hiring those in long-term recovery helps to end stigma in the workplace.

When Self-Disclosure Serves as a Template

Clients at a treatment facility may view employees in recovery as role models. In some instances, recovering staff members serve as clinicians, medical staff, psychologists, etc. And non-clinical staff like drivers, chefs, wellness coaches and peer recovery support staff are often in positions to positively influence clients. The question is, should a treatment center staff member disclose their recovery “story” as a template for those who are new to recovery?


Ethical standards guide the clinical, and medical staff members. Administrative and support staff can develop professional relationships without self-disclosure. So, the self-disclosure purview falls to Peer Recovery Specialists. And in the excelent article below by William L. White, the author provides a guide to appropriateness when imparting personal information. Every Recovery Coach should keep this guide nearby. And ask these questions. Does self-disclosure enhance recovery outcomes? Does self-disclosure elicit harm?


Self-disclosure can strengthen or weaken the recovery support relationship and serve to increase or decrease long-term recovery outcomes. The question is not, “Disclose or not disclose?” as a blanket prescription, but how to judge the timing, duration, nature, and context of self-disclosure.

Selected Papers of William L. White

Self-Disclosure and Recovery Support Services

By Bill White on Jun 13, 2019 08:34 am





Sanford Behavioral Health is an addiction and co-occurring disorders, eating disorders and mental health treatment center. Sanford provides residential and outpatient programs in the Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Sanford offers excellence in evidence-based practice models in home-like, restorative settings. Our clinicians, supported by our medical team, focus on resolving the underlying issues that often cause behavioral health conditions, such as trauma, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and isolation. Programs include both in-person and telehealth: residential, day programs, intensive outpatient, outpatient, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), education and relapse prevention classes, one-on-one and family therapy, and alumni and family support groups. At Sanford, we want to inspire you to find your inner grit, rekindle your interests and engage your passion.