The Wounded Healer

A woman came to see me, with main complaints including plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, migraines, IBS, and a concern about her weight. She was upset with her body, and perceived it to be failing her in some way. She also had lost hope that she could get better, and so was primarily focused on losing weight, which she thought was somewhat more probable of an achievement.

Typically, a therapist or doctor would see this person, evaluate the symptoms, refer for special tests if needed, do body work, and address nutritional and lifestyle components. This could be extremely helpful, and many symptoms may resolve over time, or at least diminish in part.

However, my client had wounds that would never be completely healed by this type of “by the book” healing. In fact, most people have wounds that cannot be fully healed with traditional healing techniques.

A “wounded healer” is a person who can heal the wounds at every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Wounded Healers are those clinicians who have sustained wounds of their own, and have found the way through that pain, healing within themselves the trauma that has caused the pain. Once a healer has moved through something, they are then able to help others through the same thing. We become adept facilitators in our client’s journey towards complete physical and emotional health.

A wounded healer asks the deeper questions:

– “How do you feel about your body?”
– “What do you know about all of this?”
– “What does healing look like for you?”
– “Tell me about some times in your life that have been difficult in some way for you.”
– “what have you heard about your body or your health?”
– “what do YOU think may be causing all of this?”

In the case of my client, traditional medical interventions and bodywork had not been effective in treating any of her symptoms, and in fact all interventions made her feel worse. She and I had the above conversations, and she got the opportunity to think about what the underlying emotional causes for her physical symptoms might be. Together we made a long list of experiences, fears, beliefs, and difficult relationships that she thought were contributors to her pain and symptoms.

6 sessions of emotions-based work later, she has zero pain in her feet, no body pain, she can eat what she wants without flaring her IBS, she hasn’t had a migraine in months, and she has more self-love than she’s ever had in her life. The deeper wounds are being healed.

It is only because I have successfully healed many of my own wounds that I could be present with this woman and help her first see, then heal, her wounds. She did the healing, I was just there to help it along.

When I graduated from medical school, my wife Angela crafted for me an embroidered picture with the following words on it.

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