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 a residential and outpatient facility located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sanford offers excellence in evidence-based practice models in a home-like, restorative setting. Our clinicians, supported by our medical team, focus on resolving the underlying issues that often cause substance use, such as trauma, unhealthy relationships, co-occurring disorders 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.