Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Linda Stone Fish


Disclosure, Interpersonal Processes, Marriage and Family Therapy, Posttraumatic Stress, Psychotherapy, Trauma


The purpose of this study was to introduce a new construct into the field of traumatology: disclosure-induced neo-trauma (DINT). DINT is conceptually defined as a negative disclosure experience that entails traumatic stress, disrupts the relationship between the discloser and the person(s) to whom they disclosed, and is appraised by the discloser as a new traumatic event. Participants (N = 167) identified a stressful event in their lives and reported whether they had ever disclosed that event. The majority (59%) of participants who had disclosed the event had experienced a difficult disclosure, and 15% strongly agreed that the disclosure in and of itself was a traumatic event (45% somewhat agreed). These findings support the notion that the DINT experience is relevant and impactful for many people. A six-item disclosure-trauma scale was created to facilitate identification of DINT. A series of analyses supported the construct validity of the disclosure-trauma scale, which had high reliability (Crohbach’s alpha = .91). The PROCESS macro (Hayes, 2022) supported the hypothesized mediation model that negative social responses would predict disclosure trauma via two pathways: a) by creating traumatic stress symptoms related to the disclosure and b) by negatively impacting the discloser’s relationship with the person to whom they disclosed. All of the associations involving the disclosure-trauma scale were independent of any association with post-traumatic stress due to the originating stressful event, suggesting that DINT is a separate and novel trauma with its own distinct set of symptoms. The findings have numerous clinical and conceptual implications, and for contemporary trauma theory’s application of trauma-informed frameworks. For persons recovering from trauma, negative disclosure experiences are a sometimes unacknowledged, yet regular, part of their journey. DINT is not only an added burden, but also a new wound with its own sequelae of symptoms requiring a distinct approach to treatment.


Open Access