The (Physically) Wounded Healer: The Impact of a Physical Disability on Training and Development as a Counselling Psychologist: A Case Study

Esther Ingham


This case study investigates how physical disability might impact on the therapeutic training and development of a counselling psychologist. Discourse analysis of extracts and quotations from the author’s own reflexive journal reveals some potential implications of a subtly discriminatory environment that perpetuates societal negativity towards the physically disabled. A limited level of understanding of the experience of physical disability amongst peers/colleagues is seen as a potential issue for the profession to address as an ethical obligation for ambassadors of social justice, possibly through specific disability training and reflexive practice. The archetype of the ‘wounded healer’ in the helping professions is an affirmative perspective by which to view physical disability in training. The physically disabled trainee is encouraged to commit to personal reflexive work to develop his/her understanding of the various possible implications of their physicality on relationships, be they personal or professional. This can ultimately prove the experience of physical disability to be a useful tool which, when used skillfully, has the capacity to increase relational depth in therapeutic relationships.


physical disability; counselling psychology; reflexivity; training; discourse analysis; Foucault