For some years now, I’ve been really attracted to an idea that began for me when, early in graduate school, I read “Being a Wounded Healer” by Douglas Smith. I appreciated the book for the fact that its emphasis was on how helping professionals, including counselors, use knowledge gained from our own experiences of pain to help others. A large part of the appeal was in my awareness that, like many of you, I came into this work to help make the world something different. I wanted to assure that the acute pain I had felt as “other” that was part and parcel of developing a transgender identity while growing up in South Texas would not be something others had to face.
A common refrain I heard a great deal in those and my early adult years was, “You can’t change the world.” This fatalistic vision, I came to realize, was somebody else’s understanding of the futility of trying to change humanity, but not mine. I in fact have never believed this to be true- and I hold that creating change is something that each of us has the power to do. Obviously, most of our actions we take are micro in nature, but as Chaos Theory teaches us, there’s the potential for a windstorm when a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere across the world.
Much of the impact we have is and will be unknown to us throughout our lifetimes; yet, I find myself inspired by all of the wounded healers I see here in our profession who each day are making small differences that in fact do change humanity. I may not be able to assure that another transgender child isn’t brutalized, but I can certainly do my part to educate others and hold in my heart the knowledge that each and every one of us is healing, growing, and helping change the world through the compassionate understanding it takes to do the work of counseling.
Stacee Reicherzer is a counselor, a faculty member at Walden University, and a private consultant with special interests that include: transgender issues in counseling, lateral (within-group) marginalization, and sexual abuse survival.