Vulnerability and Moral Injuries in the Psychotherapeutic Relationship
Lin was a young single woman who came to me for a neurotic issue. After working together for seven years, her situation worsened, and our therapy stuck. Then, the core secret of her family emerged. Due to the one-child policy, her family sent her newborn sister away to keep the quality of their lives, and the whole family wished the daughter never existed. Lin's strong resistance and hidden guilt triggered her therapist’s sense of vulnerability, caused moral injures for both dyads in the therapeutic relationship, and impeded further treatment. Jung emphasizes the therapist should accept to be under the influence of the patient, and the therapeutic process would be transformative for both participants, which is to say, addressing and accepting sense of being vulnerably is the key for the psychotherapy. Further, Jung is one of the pioneers to discuss the value of morality in psychotherapy. This paper will present three different levels of vulnerability in the countertransference: embodied resonance, erotic response, and moral injury relationship. Through my work with Lin, I will discuss the difficult feelings aroused by those vulnerabilities, particularly moral injury, how the last one challenges therapeutic relationships, and how to work through it.
Huan Wang, Ph.D., is a candidate of the SAP (Society of Analytical Psychology, London), a member of the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy), and the author of Intimate Relationships in China in the Light of Depth Psychology: A Study of Gender and Integrity (Routledge: London & New York, 2020). Currently, she works as a psychotherapist for SLaM NHS trust and is in private practice, based in London.