Personal-Disclosure Mutual-Sharing (PDMS) is an intervention whereby an individual consciously shares an issue or situation, with a group they belong to (i.e., sports team/peers), in attempt to find resolution through interpersonal interaction (Olarte 2003). The approach is consistent with a counselling approach in that emphasis is placed on personal disclosure underpinned by mutual sharing, empathy, and an encouragement of group members to understand each other’s experiences (Dryden 2006).
In terms of group functioning in applied sport settings, PDMS based intervention has been shown to encourage mutual communication of group values (Windsor, Barker & McCarthy 2011) amongst sport teams. Furthermore, qualitative study findings have reported links between a single PDMS intervention session and athlete reports of increased closeness and trust between teammates, and greater motivation to play as a team and with each other (Holt & Dunn 2006; Dunn & Holt 2004).
Dual phased PDMS intervention sessions with populations ranging from academy environments (Evans, Slater, Turner & Barker 2013) to adult football teams (Windsor, Barker & McCarthy 2014) have also produced interesting findings. For example, in a dual phase PDMS intervention, Barker, Evans, Coffee, Slater & McCarthy (2014) explored the effects of PDMS on social identity, particularly the social identity content components of friendship identity content (FIC) and results identity content (RIC). Findings suggested the dual-phase approach yielded desensitising effects with regards emotionality, with participants reporting feeling increasingly relaxed about sharing stories in the second phase of intervention. This suggests that, when conducted in a dual phased manner, PDMS can result in athletes sharing more emotive stories with their peers, which has an overall positive impact on team cohesion.
As a group intervention, it could thus be argued PDMS intervention studies have built on the existing team building literature. Findings also have implications for sport practitioners working in applied settings. To expand, there is a need for practitioners to acknowledge the personal and potentially provocative nature of information shared during PDMS intervention, which may concern other group members. These considerations are construed as vital to group therapy in counselling domains (Dryden 2006). Establishing boundaries and a contract with the group (prior to disclosure), which encourages honesty in an appropriate way is thus crucial and warrants skills of appropriately trained practitioners/professionals (Holt & Dunn 2006; Dryden 2006). It is also important to consider how disclosure beyond the realms of the group might be contained, for example, concerning an eating disorder, and the procedures and referral pathways to psychological support.
In terms of limitations, PDMS studies to date have not been able to explain mechanisms within a PDMS intervention that enhance group functioning (Barker et al 2014). There is also little application of PDMS into physical activity settings, with empirical studies to date tending to focus on team building per se (Burke et al 2006). Finally, given repeated exposure to PDMS appears linked to reduced anxiety around mutual sharing, longitudinal studies to track content of individual PDMS speeches and group processes over longer term studies are warranted. These are areas for future exploration.