Journeying to visibility: an autoethnography of self-harm scars in the therapy room

Fiona J. Stirling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
104 Downloads (Pure)


This autoethnography explores the experience of a therapist negotiating the visibility of their self‐harm scars in the therapy room. Its form takes the shape of the author's personal meaning‐making journey, beginning by exploring the construction of the therapist identity before going on to consider the wounded healer paradigm and the navigation of self‐disclosure. A thread throughout is finding ways to resist fear and shame as both a researcher and counsellor. The author concludes by recounting fragments of sessions from the first client she worked with while having her scars visible. While not every therapist will have self‐harm scars, all therapists have a body which plays “a significant part of his or her unique contribution to therapy” (Burka, 2013, p. 257). This paper is, therefore, potentially valuable to any therapist, at any stage of development, who seeks to reflect on the role of the body and use of the self.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1537
Number of pages14
JournalPsychotherapy and Politics International
Issue number2
Early online date19 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2020


  • Autoethnography
  • Counselling
  • Self-disclosure
  • Self-harm
  • Visibility
  • Wounded healer


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