School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Meredith Park


Disability, Online, Higher Education, Psychiatric, Disclosure, Self-efficacy


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this single case study was to explore the self-disclosure experiences of students with psychiatric disabilities in a fully online university setting. The theory guiding this study was the social model of disability as it focuses on the barriers imposed by society on students with disabilities as it pertains to self-efficacy, academic success, and the need to self-disclose. This case study asked the central question, “What can be learned from the self-disclosure experiences of students with psychiatric impairments?” Perspectives of students with psychiatric impairments, faculty, and disability support services professionals as it relates to the self-disclosure process and experience were shared. Self-disclosure experiences of students with psychiatric impairments were studied in a fully online, higher education environment. Data was collected through interviews, a focus group, and documentation. Six themes emerged during the data analysis and included: (a) academics, (b) communication, (c) disclosure experience, (d) encouraging disclosure, (e) discouraging disclosure, and (f) self-efficacy. The results of this study indicated that self-disclosure often occurs after encountering an academic barrier and that self-disclosure is influenced by prior disclosures, self-efficacy, and communication. The findings of this study aligned with much of the current literature but expanded to include aspects of communication during self-disclosure. A detailed report was included, which provided insight into the self-disclosure experiences and guidance for disability service professionals and higher education faculty and staff. Theoretical, practical, and empirical implications were also addressed.