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The paradox of the 'wounded healer'

Schonau, Bibi (2012). The paradox of the 'wounded healer'. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This doctoral portfolio consists of three different pieces of work related to the paradox of the ‘wounded healer’. It aims to reflect my journey as a practitioner-researcher. The different pieces show different aspects of this journey. The portfolio contains an original piece of research, an advanced client study and process report and thirdly a journal article.

Jung (1951) introduced the archetype of the wounded healer to promote using personal experiences of healing to enhance empathy in the healing relationship. For therapists, this paradox describes the discrepancy of an acknowledgement of woundedness, while containing the client’s hopes and expectations of being healed, by projecting a sense of wholeness (Gerson, 1996; Groesbeck, 1975; Miller & Baldwin, 2013). Street (2005) refers to this when he describes the therapists’ life as the journey of a white knight, using his super powers on his way to the Holy Grail.

Some suggest that the therapist’s wounds are a source of creativity (Adler, 1985) or sense of humanity (Martin, 2011), while others note the potential of pathology (e.g. Barnett, 2007) or power abuse (Guggenbuhl-Craig, 1971). Whichever way, the therapeutic work is always influenced by the therapists’ wounds and life changes (Gerson, 1996) and adds to the therapists’ personal ‘mythology’ (Guggenbuhl- Craig, 1995, p. 75).

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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