Welcome to the Wounded Healers interview series, celebrating those who drawn on their own experience of mental ill health in order to better help others.
What is a wounded healer?
The concept of the wounded healer dates back to Ancient Greek times and the God Chiron, who continued to heal others after being wounded himself. More recently, psychiatrist Carl Jung identified this as an archetype, a pattern of human behaviour that occurs across time and space. Since then, the notion of wounded healer has broadened to encompass those in multiple healing professions that draw on their own woundedness in the service of others.
There’s more background info on wounded healers here. Wounded healers may or may not choose to disclose their own woundedness to those they serve; they may drawn on a greater capacity for empathetic understanding without making it explicit where that capacity comes from.
Being a wounded healer
My own wounded healer pathway didn’t begin until after I was already a mental illness; I became ill will depression a couple of years after entering the field. My personal experience was tremendously helpful in bringing greater empathy and understanding the effects of hierarchical power structures within mental health care. Some separation of client and therapist is needed to be effective therapeutically, but that separation need not look like a hierarchy.
Beyond simply adapting my own attitudes, I chose to be open with my patients whenever I believed that there was a strong possibility my limited self-disclosure could have a therapeutic effect. It turned out to be a powerful tool, in no small part because it levelled the playing field between professional and patient.
Are you a wounded healer?
I decided to start the wounded healers interview series to showcase the remarkable contributions that people from within the mental illness community have made to help others living with mental illness. I’m looking to interview people who:
- have lived experience of mental illness or other significant mental health challenges;
- are willing to share the impact of those experiences on their helping work; AND
- are working (or have worked) in a helping role supporting people with mental health challenges, either as mental health professionals or wellness-promoting roles (e.g. coaches) – students and retired helpers are welcome too
If you’d like to do an interview, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com. Let me know how you are a wounded healer, and I’ll send you the interview questions.
Past wounded healer interviews
These amazing wounded healers have been interviewed thus far:
- Meg of Where Good Advice Happens (worker at residential treatment for abused youth) – interview HERE