Integrating Therapist Subjectivity in Therapeutic Practice

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Steele, Dinah
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This capstone explores the longstanding opinion within the field of counselling psychology that the therapist ought not to bring much of their own subjectivity to their counselling practice. The exploration begins with a literature review of the current research, beginning with an examination of the history and efficacy of the therapeutic alliance, followed by a contextualization of the philosophical importance of the therapist's own 'way of being'. Subsequently, the opportunities and risks presented by the 'wounded healer' therapist are considered, including issues such as their proclivity within the field and their potential for vicarious trauma. Following this, ethical considerations are explored, such as navigating countertransference, adherence to ethical codes of conduct, and the limitations of self-care. The literature review concludes with a consideration of the legitimacy of mutual aid and peer support as they pertain to healing, and the advent of consumer survivors within the counselling field. Current research findings demonstrate that the field of counselling psychology values the lived-experience of the wounded healer, while continuing to stigmatize them. Consumer survivor counsellors express feeling dissuaded from self-disclosure, concerned with the limits of 'professionalism', worried that their lived-experience delegitimizes their expertise, and find incorporating subjectivity into their practice to be discouraged. This project suggests that therapists ought to embrace their lived-experience, woundedness, and subjectivity, and be encouraged to incorporate it into their practice. This project concludes that rather than risking centering the therapist over the client, this practice functions as a means of strengthening the therapeutic alliance, humanizing the therapist, and empowering the client. Finally, recommendations are made for future therapist education and training, in order to accommodate for these findings.
therapeutic alliance, self-disclosure, lived-experience, wounded healer, therapist subjectivity, consumer survivor
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