Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal view

“Did you ever suffer from any mental illness?”

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 28 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:709
  1. Arnob Chakraborti, senior house officer (
  1. psychiatry, South Staffordshire NHS Trust

    At one of my psychotherapy sessions the first thing my client asked me, after the usual greetings and smiles, was, “Did you ever suffer from any mental illness?” I had been engaged in therapy with this particular client for a few weeks. We had a good rapport, and in terms of the therapy I felt we were making better than average progress. But nothing in the previous sessions had prepared me for this question. I had never had the opportunity to discuss the nature and degree of self disclosure that would be appropriate to a particular context. I had always and only understood self disclosure as a personal matter: no rules, no guidelines, only discretion. I have not had any diagnosable mental illness; but now, faced with this opening question and put on the spot, I felt a salvo of thoughts shooting through my mind. How should I answer this question? I was apprehensive of losing our rapport, the engagement in therapy, and progress in …

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