Dr Melane van Zyl
Jung proposed the idea of the wounded healer. Jung suggested that a psychotherapist is compelled to heal others because of the therapist’s wounds. Some statistics show that many psychiatrists and psychologists suffer from depression and anxiety. The “wound” is the traumas we suffered throughout our lives.
The concept of the wounded healer is one that I struggled to relate to.
I did not see myself as a healer (it sounded too woo-woo), never mind a wounded one.
I did not relate to the idea that we are all wounded and that some of us because we have wounds, want to heal others.
Jung furthermore proposed that the wounds of the therapist and the patient/client affect each other. The therapist might or might not be aware that their wounds affect the relationship with the client. The client’s wounds may also trigger something in the therapist.
This is one of the undisputable reasons why a therapist should have his own therapy. We, as therapists, should offer a neutral space for the client without our own “stuff” interfering in the process. However, the more I learn about the psychoanalytic or depth psychology approach, the more I am convinced that this is not entirely possible. To an extent, we all remain wounded, which has a purpose. The reason why therapists should have their own therapy is to create awareness of their woundedness and how it appears in the therapeutic relationship.
So, here is the realization I have had about the wounded healer. When the client presents a difficult dilemma for the therapist to solve, it wounds the therapist. The dilemma can be a problem that the client brings, an attitude or behaviour of the client, or anything that is a challenge for the therapist. Doctors and healers want to heal; if the process is complicated, it can affect our ego. Therefore, the wounding occurs in the therapeutic process here and now.
The “beauty” of the wounding process is that it makes the therapist more equal to the client. If the therapist can hold the woundedness, the therapist and the client both sit together in a state of not knowing. And here is where true healing can happen for the client and the therapist. And this is the wonder of the therapeutic relationship.