Ethical Challenges of Personal Disclosure in Gaining Entry with Religious Congregations

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This is a story about learning how to navigate my social identities as a non-religious gay man attempting to conduct data-based consultation with a religious congregation. Beyond my own growth in knowing myself better, this story speaks to the larger ethical challenge of how we build trust in community relationships, and in particular how much of our personal selves we need to disclose in the process of an individual or group deciding to work with us. Individuals and groups make decisions to work with us based on who they perceive us to be; thus, what is our ethical obligation to disclose aspects of who we are to promote full informed consent? To illustrate this ethical challenge of personal disclosure, I tell the story of discussions I had with three different religious leaders and a congregational committee about potentially working together. Throughout these stories, I reflect on my own messy process of growth as a window into the more general question of how we navigate our identities and values as community psychologists in the work we do with communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-308
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Community-based partnership
  • Ethics
  • Relational ethics
  • Self-disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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