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The Conscious Wounded Healer in Practice
4 March 2023
Core Themes: Wounds, Wounded Healer, Consciousness, Ego, Facilitator skills; personal development, self awareness, self-work, projection, therapist, coach, teacher, skills development, congruence, authenticity, power imbalance, horses. equine facilitated/assisted practice.
We are all wounded in some way.
And it is our wounds that hold the potential for us to become healers; the “Wounded Healer”, for the benefit of others. If we can bring the light of consciousness to our wounds as we turn to face them head-on, rather than running away or covering them over with substances or behaviours, then as Rumi suggests so beautifully: “The wound is the place where the light enters you”.
Jung, who coined the phrase “Wounded Healer”, cautioned that it’s vital that anyone practicing the healing arts in anyway remains connected to their own unconscious and wound, otherwise they project woundedness onto others, including their clients. They become overly-identified with the healer archetype and become psychologically inflated; seeing themselves as above as and better than those who come to them for help.
This is inevitably an imbalanced and incongruent situation and the client WILL feel this power disparity and projection, maybe not at first, as they will be vulnerable in their seeking help, but in time something will begin to feel “off” and wrong in the dynamic. Essentially, it’s an inauthentic, unreal healing dynamic that can never lead to true self-discovery and healing in the client. And it only serves to feed the inflated power drive in the healer, so in the end, neither actually truly benefit.
I’ve seen horses in equine facilitated sessions step in when they feel this power imbalance happening. It’s as if they seek to protect the most vulnerable person in that moment and will even physically block the facilitator and take over supporting the client; I’ve experienced this myself a couple of times.
Now, if the facilitator is sufficiently self-aware of their own core wounds and the habits they elicit they will notice this reaction by the horse/s and step back, re-balance themselves, breathe and acknowledge with humility that they have over-stepped the client’s boundaries. If they don’t then their ego will suffer more greatly in its humiliation and could reinforce their will to be seen as the all-powerful, healed person. But again, this does nothing to serve their clients’ needs and healing process, nor does it lead to deeper awareness and congruence in the facilitator. It’s bruising for sure to the little ego who likes to believe it's mighty and invincible, but this is not real or helpful for the client.
As a wounded healer supporting others and to remain deeply and empathetically connected to others, including our clients, we must practice our own healing daily in the form of continuous inner-explorations, therapy, supervision, body-work and tending to our dreams.
Only our continually transmuted wounds that have been blessed with the light of awareness can be a gift with which to assist others on their journey. Remembering this at all times helps keep us grounded, human, authentic and best able to be of service to those most in need of our particular medicine.
© Angela Dunning