The Uniqueness and Importance of Lived Experience in Therapy


Sonny Jane Wise | Non CE

Lived experience is much more than just an experience of mental ill health but also includes an understanding of marginalisation, oppression and discrimination at the hands of our lived experience and identities. Using our lived experience as clinicians can assist in challenging the power imbalance present and allow us to create a more collaborative and authentic

therapeutic relationship. However, the stigma and dominant narratives present often lead to therapists keeping a firm divide between their professional persona and lived experience. In this discussion, we will explore how lived experience can provide therapeutic and healing possibilities as well as challenge stigma and misconceptions of living with a mental illness. We will also explore the topic of self-disclosure within the therapeutic relationship and why centering lived experience and our identities is so valuable. Throughout this discussion I’ll draw on my own lived experience as a consumer and a clinician with experience supporting individuals as someone who shows up with their lived experience.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the benefits and risks of disclosing our dual identities and lived experience to clients
  2. Identify both formal and informal self-disclosure strategies
  3. Identify ways stigma and dominant narratives show up in our field

Our Presenter

Sonny Jane Wise

Sonny Jane is an agender, autistic and disabled counsellor who has past and ongoing lived experience with mental illness, trauma, disability and neurodivergence. Their own lived experience and clinical experience led them to create a private peer support practice where they provide counselling and peer support that centers lived experience and addresses the stigma and oppression within therapy.