This paper reports on a qualitative study investigating clinical psychology programme selectors' perceptions of psychological ‘woundedness’ in the autobiographical narratives of applicants for clinical psychology training. Woundedness was here defined in terms of the ongoing or residual psychological impact of adverse experiences and psychic conflicts. Ten selectors were presented with a sample of applicants' written autobiographical narratives, differentiated by the conspicuous presence or absence of psychological woundedness. The selectors, who were not informed of the specific aims of the study, ranked applicant protocols and were interviewed individually about their impressions of the protocols and the criteria that they used to rank them. Most selectors were positively biased toward ‘wounded’ narratives and suspicious of those in which woundedness was manifestly absent. Although generally disposed to favour wounded applicants, how woundedness was presented, rather than the mere presence of it, was a discriminating feature in selectors' appraisal of wounded narratives. Selectors were concerned that unresolved woundedness may compromise applicants' professional boundaries, impair self-reflective capacity and lead to damaging countertransference enactments. The relative extent to which applicant woundedness appeared to be resolved was significant in selectors' assessment of applicants' clinical training potential. A distinction is thus proposed between obstructive and facilitative woundedness in clinical psychology applicants. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Key Practitioner Message
- A sample of clinical psychology programme selectors identified psychological woundedness as a significant feature in applicant autobiographies.
- Selectors favoured applicant autobiographies showing evidence of woundedness.
- The distinction between obstructive and facilitative woundedness is important in how the selector sample evaluated woundedness.