Aims: To understand the features of experiential knowledge with recovery and the process of social work students learning to use their experiential knowledge of recovery from an existential and emancipatory perspective. Methods: A participatory action research design was used in an applied university social work department in the Netherlands to develop a new curriculum for students using their experiential knowledge. Students were invited to disclose and share their personal experiences of recovery in the classroom and practice. Results: Experiential knowledge of recovery can be articulated as knowledge of finding a new balance in dualities of several existential themes. Social work students shared their experiences in a reflexive way and transcended their individual experiences to develop a critical subjectivity. They experienced their learning process as emancipatory and destigmatizing, but shame came up as a recurring theme. Making use of experiential knowledge sometimes conflicted with expectations of the social worker as a detached professional expert. Conclusion: Experiential knowledge of recovery can be articulated as knowledge of living with existential dualities. Profiling oneself as a social worker with existential knowledge of recovery has paradoxical aspects: it may weaken shame and combat stigmatization, but may reinforce stigma as well.