Unfortunately, my wife's father, Barry, passed away last Friday. He had suffered from a number of health problems for a long time, so his death was not unexpected, but of course, this did not make it any less sad. Barry was a great guy, who, although very quiet, was friendly, polite, and had a great sense of humor. He was a tremendously skilled athlete and businessman, and a loving father and husband. I miss him already, and I know that everyone else who knew him feels the same way.
According to Jewish tradition, (my wife and I are both Jewish), the funeral was held within several days of his death, so we left for Philadelphia on Saturday morning, and the funeral was on Sunday. We returned to Boston yesterday. It's been a pretty hectic few days.
Of course, during time like this, my number one priority is to help my wife cope with her loss, which means that school & internship were put on the back burner for a little while. Once again, my professors and supervisors were understanding about my needs. My primary supervisor was even kind enough to cancel my appointments for me.
However, now I am back in town, and today is my first day back at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, so it's time for me to get my act together. I just finished calling eight patients to reschedule the appointments that I missed. I have about a million emails to respond to as well.
In times like this, questions come up around self-disclosure in therapy. It is unusual for me to cancel appointments at the last minute, and I imagine my clients may wonder why I had to do so. What should I tell them? Is it appropriate to tell my clients that there was a death in my family? If not, should I make up a different explanation? Should I try to sidestep the question?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions. Self-disclosure in therapy is a hot issue, and there are many viewpoints on the subject. Some would say that if I tell my patients the truth, it would help to foster a sense of empathy. Others would argue that doing so would inappropriately shift the focus of therapy from the client to the therapist.
What do you think? As always, comments are welcome.