Hurt people

In this paper, the work of Dr. Sandra Wilson (2001) will be looked at from the perspective of obtaining a comprehensive personal theory of counseling. Wilson draws on many years of counseling experience and has developed a simple yet profound concept that hurt people, hurt people. In this theory, Wilson describes how a person is wounded early on in life and how those hurts translates into a continual wounded adult life if not properly addressed. The paper will give a brief summary of the Wilson’s theory, point out some strengths that this theory presents along with weaknesses.

Lastly, this paper will draw on personal experience from the author that connects with the content of Wilson’s theory and makes appropriate applications for further counseling practice. ? WILSON CRITIQUE ! 3 Introduction Dr. Sandra Wilson (2001) presents a very helpful and unique theory for the Christian counselor in her book, Hurt People Hurt People. This theory critique paper will introduce, unlike other theories that have been discussed, the crucial role that temporal systems play in the development of a person’s health, illness, and personality (Slide Presentation, COUN 507 B08 LUO, Week 1, Slide 2).

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Wilson (2001) argues that hurts and wounds that originate in childhood are the primary driving force for why a person hurts other people later on in adulthood. Summary Wilson (2001) begins her theory on why hurt people hurt people by conveying that a person’s childhood, no matter how good or loving it was, experiences some type or level of hurt (Wilson, 2001). This exploration into the childhood stage of a person’s life shows that the messages a child receives during that stage can determine the trends of one’s actions in adulthood (Wilson 2001).

In essence the sum of an adult’s hurtful actions can be explained by the choices that the child made in response to the hurtful environment in which they lived (Wilson, 2001, pg. 86). This cornerstone concept stems out of Wilson’s (2001) theory of why hurt people hurt people. Wilson (2001) describes three questions that children must not only answer but by which their answers lead to the choices they make in life. First a child is asking, “Can I be safe in the environment I am in and the predominate relationships around me?

” Children will make choices in their daily lives to manage how to obtain a sense of stability and meet basic needs (Wilson, 2001, pg. 74). Next, children ask the question, “Can I convey and show my true self to WILSON CRITIQUE ! 4 those around me? ” (Wilson, 2001, pg. 75). This boils down to the child’s identity and desire to know if their needs and emotions are able to be met through the expression of their true nature. Lastly, children ask, “Can I be accepted in a relationally by those around me? ”

In this question, children learn to accept themselves or not by the quality of the how their parents accept or don’t accept them for who they are. Wilson (2001) concludes that what is uniquely powerful in this dynamic is that children believe they are freely making their choices when in fact they have very little option in the process (Wilson, 2001, pg. 82). Wilson (2001) finds that where a child questions has dramatic and adult-changing effect due to a perception we have about God. Wilson states that children from a general sense think of God as an exaggerated parent

This perception of God as an exaggerated parent explains how the choices that children make based on the above stated questions that children ask have an effect in adult life. So for example, if a child is raised in a stable home and feels loved, accepted and able to be themselves, they will generally view God as someone who has the same inclination. Weaknesses and Strengths Wilson (2001) presents many strengths in her theory of hurt people, hurt people. One of the strengths is her ability to communicate the motivation for why individuals behave in hurtful ways to one another.

She relates that the messages that children receive from their parents in good and bad instances are then acted upon to protect and defend safety, stability, and their sense of image. These choices which continue on into adulthood come out in an unhealthy way of WILSON CRITIQUE ! 5 relating to one other (Wilson, 2001). Wilson’s approach is centered on the past of the individual where a majority of these choices have their beginning. Another strength of Wilson is her ability to define the role of temporal systems in the development of personality.

She makes a case that what we live through and how we change as result of the environment ultimately determines what we become, which can have positive or negative consequences (Wilson, 2001, pg. 86). Wilson creates a helpful map for understanding from a general perspective how someone might change from the temporal systems in which they live. By describing this particular map, Wilson helps the counselor and/or counselee trace their steps back to understand the origins of the choices made.

At the end of the map, Wilson purposes that the family system, the schools system, or other cultural systems are potential reasons for what motivates hurtful behavior. One weakness to point out from Wilson’s theory is the fact she focus predominately on the past. Wilson does not look into other explanations for motivation other than centering her theory around the parent’s effect on the child. Though she does talk on a few points about the Lord’s role in how a person goes about changing in to a healthy adult , the majority of Wilson’s synthesis for why someone may hurt others or take a defensive stance toward another person centers less on biblical principles and more on her year of experience in the counseling field.

Though this can’t be considered a true hard and fast weakness, I would have expected her to undergird this prominent part of process with scriptural references. WILSON CRITIQUE ! 6 Personal Reflection I agree with Wilson’s theory of why hurt people hurt people, mainly because I personally relate.

When I read her theory, and think of my own personal childhood, I can very much see where some of my own behaviors have come out of thoughts and choices I made to protect my own feelings and acceptance. As I look back at my own past relations with my dad and how that has dramatically effected me in some negative areas, I recall the main challenge that Wilson describes we have to face and overcome is our distorted view of God (Wilson, 2001, pg. 188). As I have thought through what my dad has communicated to me about who God is, I realize more and more how much more of a journey I have in knowing God truly.

It would seem that one of the greatest tasks that we as counselors have is the stewardship of the truth of revealing who God is. If what Wilson has described is on point, and I think it is, then how we as counselors accurately and efficaciously communicate the truth of the person of God to hurting people is paramount to the transformation. One method that Wilson described in her book for helping counselees is how introducing new choices and consistently enacting those choices can produce change

Through the counseling process, I would want to identify what was the pathway or map for the distorted view of God and how that distorted view has shaped the actions of the person. I would then introduce the simple truth of what the counselee doesn’t know into the the realm of the known. Wilson makes a great point that the counselee won’t know they can change until they know what they have chosen (Wilson, 2001, pg. 88). I think this can be a powerful tool in the tool belt of counseling because it is the power truth that will ultimately set the person free to heal from the wounds that they are experiencing.

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