The dilemma of the wounded healer.
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The wounded healer is an archetype that suggests that a healer's own wounds can carry curative power for clients. This article reviews past research regarding the construct of the wounded healer. The unique benefits that a psychotherapist's personal struggles might have on work with clients are explored, as well as the potential vulnerability of some wounded healers with respect to stability of recovery, difficulty managing countertransference, compassion fatigue, and/or professional impairment. The review also explores psychologists' perceptions of and responses to wounded healers and examines factors relating to social stigma and self-stigma that may influence wounded healers' comfort in disclosing their wounds. We propose that the relative absence of dialogue in the field regarding wounded healers encourages secrecy and shame among the wounded, thereby preventing access to support and guidance and discouraging timely intervention when needed. We explore the complexities of navigating disclosure of wounds, given the atmosphere of silence and stigma. We suggest that the mental health field move toward an approach of greater openness and support regarding the wounded healer, and provide recommendations for cultivating the safety necessary to promote resilience and posttraumatic growth.
SubjectAttitude to Health
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1037/a0027824
Publication InfoZerubavel, N; & Wright, MO (2012). The dilemma of the wounded healer. Psychotherapy (Chic), 49(4). pp. 482-491. 10.1037/a0027824. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11252.
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Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Noga Zerubavel, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Zerubavel is the Director of the Stress, Trauma, and Recovery Treatment Clinic (START Clinic), which provides treatment for trauma-related disorders including PTSD, dissociative disorders, and other sequelae of trauma within the Cognitive Behavioral Research and Treatment Program at Duke. She specializes in working with