Being a Social Worker is a very important aspect of who I am. It is not just a career choice, it is a life choice. My life as a Social Worker does not end at 5pm every night. My mind is always thinking, processing, writing, researching. For some, this statement seems exhausting. For me, it is invigorating. I have always been curious about the world around me. Now I can live that curiosity in my career and in my life.
The events of my life have led me to this profession. From the moment I sat in my first Social Work class, I had an instant feeling that I had found my calling. And from that moment on, I have been immersed in the world of human behavior, psychology, social justice, and helping others.
In my piece On Being a Social Worker, I provided a snap-shot view of a day in the life of our world. Many of the reasons why many of us do what we do. One aspect of our profession that I did not discuss in that piece is that of being a Wounded Healer.
The concept of the Wounded Healer was developed by Carl Jung, a psychologist who explored the phenomenon that many people in the helping profession are here because they have an intense desire to heal others, due to the fact that they themselves have been wounded as well. This is common for many of us in this field. It can be a beautiful source of connection and empathy. It can also be incredibly scary and potentially detrimental to those you are trying to help.
I happen to be a text book example of the quintessential Wounded Healer. Part of the reason I have been so drawn to this field is because of my past experiences. Through my classes, I gained not only a better understanding of the world we live in, I also gained a deeper awareness of my own personal world. Let’s just say that intellectually I could better understand the chaos around me, yet my spirit needed deeper healing.
The full details of my past chaos and wounds remain with me. Perhaps one day I will share them in a public forum. I am open about my struggle with PostPartum Depression, yet my spirit has had shadows on it long before I became pregnant with Mia. While my experience with PPD was severe and terrifying, that beast wasn’t a complete stranger to me. The difference with this experience is that it brought my awareness as a Wounded Healer to a whole new level. I became so painfully aware of my own wounds that for a few years I thought I may not be able to continue to work in this field. I was so terrified that my own wounds would get in the way of my work with clients.
Through intense clinical supervision, ongoing therapy that addressed my personal experiences along with my professional development, and other intensive interventions, I was able to find new ways to work with clients. In fact, I eventually felt even stronger as a clinician. I was able to develop specific techniques to better connect with my clients while not activating my own wounds. And if my own wounds were triggered, I had the self-care tools necessary to get through it and not be further wounded. The concept of being a Wounded Healer became a gift to me.
At the same time, I am hyper-aware of the potential damage that can be done. So many topics can bring a new risk of potential damage. We expect helping professionals to develop the tools they need to put their own needs aside and focus on connecting with their client. Yet sometimes it can be a difficult task for those who have not worked on their own wounds.
I believe so much in the power and the potential for harm within the Wounded Healer that it is woven into all of my supervisory and training sessions. My mission is to work with my fellow Social Workers and other helping professionals to ensure we are taken care of. I’m devoted to creating a professional culture of self-care and enhancement. My own life mirrors what I teach. I live and breathe the concepts of being a Wounded Healer. I also am dedicated to my own self-awareness and using self-care strategies to improve who I am as a person and a professional.
I am proud to be a Social Worker. I am proud to be a Wounded Healer. Through healing others, I am also healing myself.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus