The role of expressive writing in negotiating shame and desire for gay male therapists considering disclosing their sexual orientation to male clients.

PhD Research Aims:
• To see if, and how, through a set of expressive writing tasks and interviews, gay male therapists can explore their own feelings of shame and desire in the therapeutic relationship.
• To see if, and how, expressive writing tasks can help gay male therapists examine their sense of shame and desire and consider disclosure of their sexuality to clients.
• To explore how shame and desire are activated within the context of self-disclosure of sexuality to male clients by the therapist in the therapeutic dyad

My name is Michael O’Rourke and I’m conducting doctoral research into how gay male counsellors and psychotherapists might experience disclosure of their sexual orientation (DSO) to their male clients. DSO is a contentious topic, but there is growing evidence that gay clients benefit from having their therapist disclose their own gay sexual orientation.

The research involves six expressive writing tasks where participants write for 20 minutes on six separate occasions on shame, desire, and sexual orientation disclosure. The writing tasks are carried out in your own home and sent to me for analysis. All the writing is anonymised. You will also take part in an online interview where I will ask you some questions about the writing tasks and general thoughts around therapist disclosure of sexual orientation (TDSO).

This is a valuable piece of research for the LGBTQ+ community. While I am focusing on gay men, it is because that is my own lived experience. Findings might be translatable into therapeutic work with other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The research has been given ethical approval by the University of Brighton Cross-School Research Ethics Committee.

My PhD supervisor is Prof Stephen Maddison and he can be contacted on A full explanation of the project will be given, and I will happily answer any questions you have before agreeing to participate.

Please contact me on m.j.o’