Tag Archives: feelings

Johari Window

Johari Window

The Johari Window, named after the first names of its inventors, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, is one of the most useful models describing the process of human interaction. A four paned “window,” as illustrated above, divides personal awareness into four different types, as represented by its four quadrants: open, hidden, blind, and unknown. The lines dividing the four panes are like window shades, which can move as an interaction progresses.

In this model, each person is represented by their own window. Let’s describe mine:

1. The “open” quadrant represents things that both I know about myself, and that you know about me. For example, I know my name, and so do you, and if you have explored some of my website, you know some of my interests. The knowledge that the window represents, can include not only factual information, but my feelings, motives, behaviors, wants, needs and desires… indeed, any information describing who I am. When I first meet a new person, the size of the opening of this first quadrant is not very large, since there has been little time to exchange information. As the process of getting to know one another continues, the window shades move down or to the right, placing more information into the open window, as described below.

2. The “blind” quadrant represents things that you know about me, but that I am unaware of. So, for example, we could be eating at a restaurant, and I may have unknowingly gotten some food on my face. This information is in my blind quadrant because you can see it, but I cannot. If you now tell me that I have something on my face, then the window shade moves to the right, enlarging the open quadrant’s area. Now, I may also have blindspots with respect to many other much more complex things. For example, perhaps in our ongoing conversation, you may notice that eye contact seems to be lacking. You may not say anything, since you may not want to embarrass me, or you may draw your own inferences that perhaps I am being insincere. Then the problem is, how can I get this information out in the open, since it may be affecting the level of trust that is developing between us? How can I learn more about myself? Unfortunately, there is no readily available answer. I may notice a slight hesitation on your part, and perhaps this may lead to a question. But who knows if I will pick this up, or if your answer will be on the mark.

3. The “hidden” quadrant represents things that I know about myself, that you do not know. So for example, I have not told you, nor mentioned anywhere on my website, what one of my favorite ice cream flavors is. This information is in my “hidden” quadrant. As soon as I tell you that I love “Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia” flavored ice cream, I am effectively pulling the window shade down, moving the information in my hidden quadrant and enlarging the open quadrant’s area. Again, there are vast amounts of information, virtually my whole life’s story, that has yet to be revealed to you. As we get to know and TRUST other, I will then feel more comfortable disclosing more intimate details about myself. This process is called: “Self-disclosure.”

4. The “unknown” quadrant represents things that neither I know about myself, nor you know about me. For example, I may disclose a dream that I had, and as we both attempt to understand its significance, a new awareness may emerge, known to neither of us before the conversation took place. Being placed in new situations often reveal new information not previously known to self or others. For example, I learned of the Johari window at a workshop conducted by a Japanese American psychiatrist in the early 1980’s. During this workshop, he created a safe atmosphere of care and trust between the various participants. Usually, I am terrified of speaking in public, but I was surprised to learn that in such an atmosphere, the task need not be so daunting. Prior to this event, I had viewed myself and others had also viewed me as being extremely shy. (The above now reminds me of a funny joke, which I cannot refrain from telling you. It is said that the number one fear that people have is speaking in public. Their number two fear is dying. And the number three fear that people have, is dying while speaking in public.) Thus, a novel situation can trigger new awareness and personal growth. The process of moving previously unknown information into the open quadrant, thus enlarging its area, has been likened to Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.


Taken in party from a Bellevue University Blackboard Post – all due credit to Monalisa McGee, Ph.D.


Observation and Reflection on Affective Experience and Communication

“Civilization seems to require that we inhibit the free play of our emotions, and many have wondered what consequences such emotional inhibition might have.”  (Gross & Levenson, 1997, p. 95)  The word feeling is another word for emotion, and emotions represent the well from which many of our thoughts and actions flow.  “If we can identify and sort out clients’ feelings, we have a foundation for further action.”  (Ivey, Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2010, p. 190)  That further action, if there is to be any, should represent clarification of what has been dubbed “affective experience.”  In my view, that affective experience, properly channeled, is like channeling the flow from an artesian well.  If we are successful “the client will experience and understand their emotional state more fully and talk in more depth about feelings” or emotions.  (Ivey et al., 2010, p. 172)  In essence, clients tap the well of emotion that swells up inside of them… and the release of that pressure will result in both verbal and nonverbal expression.

If we succeed in tapping the well of emotion, the resulting flow of verbal and nonverbal expression of emotion allows us to functionally guide a client through a liquid reenactment of emotion experience.  “Human change and development is often rooted in emotional experience.”  (Ivey et al., 2010, p. 180)  Meaningful change, in my opinion, is difficult to obtain without addressing the emotions that will be leveraged to drive and guide that change… although difficulty dealing with emotions is not an insurmountable issue.  Research seems to support the view that difficulty or discomfort with emotional expression is less important than the bond between therapist and client.  In the same study, perception of treatment helpfulness was also capable of overcoming discomfort with emotional expression. (Cusack, Deane, Wilson, & Ciarrochi, 2006)  While emotions and feelings remain central to our profession, the efficacy of the treatment and the professional relationship continue to trump their significance in some circles.

As a client, I know when a therapy session goes well… it “just feels right.”  “Like other aspects of the non-sensory fringe of consciousness (e.g., feelings of familiarity, knowing, or causation), feelings of rightness are evident instantly, although they may be amorphous and fuzzy.  (Hicks, Cicero, Trent, Burton, & King, 2010, p. 967)  In my view, observing and reflecting feelings make it possible to be “right” more often, at least as it relates to tapping the our clients emotional wells and channeling that emotion to positive ends.

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Cusack, J., Deane, F. P., Wilson, C. J., & Ciarrochi, J. (2006, April). Emotional expression, perceptions of therapy, and help-seeking intentions in men attending therapy services. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7(2), 69-82. doi: 10.1037/1524-9220.7.2.69

Gross, J. J., & Levenson, R. W. (1997, Feb). Hiding feelings: The acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106(1), 95-103. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.106.1.95

Hicks, J. A., Cicero, D. C., Trent, J., Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2010, June). Positive affect, intuition, and feelings of meaning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(6), 967-979. doi: 10.1037/a0019377

Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M. B., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2010). Intentional interviewing & counseling (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.