For most of my career, there was a real big push for clinicians not to be open about whether they had a lived experience or not. We were trained to be experts which can sometimes be monotone and robotic. It was seen as a weakness, a vulnerability. To show the struggles you had to go through to integrate into society meant that you were no longer the clinician, that you lacked professional integrity. However, there has been a bit of a shift over the last several years and we may have the pandemic to blame? or thank? for that.
We all have scars, we have all been through something that has helped shape us to who we are today. This is not a weakness, this is a strength. It takes strength and courage to admit that life hasn’t been easy, to continue to get up and face each day despite the dwindling of hope that can be a result of abuse, abandonment, neglect or lack of connection and support. Does this mean each and every clinician needs to have a lived experience? Not necessarily. However, I do believe it adds to your character and allows for a deeper engagement, understanding and level of empathy. People have a way of knowing without self-disclosure. We do not need to divulge our experiences to demonstrate that empathy, compassion and connection.
The main message here is do not think for a second that the stripes you have earned make you less than, they are an indication of your incredible resilience and perseverance. You are the sum of all your parts… even the negative ones.
Written by Cassie, an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
Check out more of Cassie’s writing on her instagram: @asocialapproach