The Wounded Therapist: Understanding the Relationship Between Personal Suffering and Clinical Practice

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Abstract

Despite a growing interest in and acceptance of the concept of the wounded healer in humanistic circles, many therapists still fear the potential negative consequences of revealing psychological or psychiatric struggles to their colleagues and supervisors. Although past research has described the wounded healer in conjunction with issues such as countertransference, self-disclosure, and supervision, it has not substantially addressed the relationship between the therapist’s psychological wounds and his or her identity as a clinician. We qualitatively analyzed 11 first-person published narratives written by psychotherapists who have experienced psychological wounding. Our findings point to the challenges that wounded therapists face when navigating the distance between their personal distress and the experiences of their clients, as well as the value the therapist’s wounds can hold in clinical practice.

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