Social Workers as Wounded Healers: Childhood Trauma, and Its Impacts on Practice

There is repeated evidence that social workers experience elevated rates of mental illness and substance abuse (Sieber, 2004; Straussner, 2018; Thomas, 2016). Such findings could be explained by historic trauma. Among a sample of social work students, 42% reported experiencing four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES), 3.3 times that of the general population (Thomas, 2016). In studies comparing social work students with business and English majors, social workers had higher rates of substance abuse, childhood histories of physical and sexual abuse, mental and physical illness, and in their families of origin, suicide completions and attempts. (Black, et al.,1993; Coombes & Anderson 2000; Rompf & Royce, 1994). Such experiences might draw social workers into the profession and impart empathic skills, but can fuel problematic countertransference reactions if not brought to awareness and addressed (Hollis, 2021). In this webinar, we will review the existing literature and explore a theoretical explanation of how childhood trauma and family of origin dysfunction may attract social workers to the profession but also interfere with their effectiveness. As a result of this webinar, participants will be able to identify and address these issues in ways that make them more effective clinicians.

This webinar does not have any offerings for this semester.