Power in the Therapeutic Relationship
Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can always be certain of learning from those who I am with. There will be good qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones which will teach me what requires correction in myself. –Confucius
Everyone possesses power; it is the ‘force’ concept in the term ‘life force’; it is a “vital force” (Hahnemann 1982:12).
Without power we cease to function, it is the energy that drives the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual responses of the body to any stimulus.
- Physical power allows the body to respond healthily to any stimulus
- Mental power allows the mind to respond healthily to any stimulus
- The body manifests this balance of physical and mental power by enabling the body to heal itself
- Emotional power allows mental and physical power to respond healthily to others’ stimulus through the power to make informed choices.
- The body manifests an internal balance of physical, mental and emotional power through positive exchanges of power with others.
- Spiritual power provides nourishment in all aspects of life.
When power is imbalanced it is borne from a stimulus which leads to a sense of power-over an individual; whether that power-over is aimed at another person or is felt from another person, both can lead to disempowerment which results in imbalance. Maintaining power-over another is as draining as feeling anothers’ power-over you; it drains the body of energy and causes all areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth to become exhausted. In this exhausted state dis-ease can occur.
It is at this point that many people seek professional help through therapy; the therapy situation therefore is a way of recognising an imbalance of power on the part of the client and receiving encouragement and guidance on the part of the therapist towards a sense of power-within. When a sense of power-within has been achieved therapy outcomes shift towards that of maintenance aided greatly through the sense of power-with the therapist and others. Inevitably the client should complete their therapy with a sense of power-with any stimulus they come into contact with, be that individuals, situations or surroundings; it is maintenance of ‘power-with’ any presenting stimulus that leads to flourishing and nourishing spiritual power.
A conversation and rapport with another is built up through relaxed and open discussion; this demonstrates ‘power with’ that person and a good therapist will see their role as holistic advisor not allopathic dictator; the ultimate decision regarding a clients health comes from them. When helping people feel well Hahnemann says; “one should ascertain whether there is anything in them which may cause or sustain the disease” (ibid 1982:90-91). For the client this involves an understanding and removal of what makes them ill in order to be well. The holistic consultants role is to aid the client in establishing balanced physical, mental, and emotional power which comes from their role as healer of themselves. Making a commitment to being well is required before the clients healing power can find its natural balance.
The client should feel safe and comfortable enough to feel there are no boundaries for them within the therapy session. The client should feel cosseted enough within the session to allow boundaries to fall away in order to give a frank and clear account of their problems, they should not feel more disempowered through the experience. If a client feels disempowered in certain aspects of their lives they may look upon the therapist as the person who will make them well, it is however they who make them well through regaining their power balance, with the therapist role to aid them in this by pointing them in the right direction.
Ultimately the therapy outcome rests with the client, it is the therapists job to maintain a relationship built on power-with the client, however, a famous saying springs to mind ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’. If a client persistently allows their power-within to become imbalanced the therapy outcome will be less favourable and they therefore may take a long time to reach balance. The therapy interaction should be relaxed; divided into a clinical detailing of the case and then an informal chat to discover where the client feels disempowered in their life. The client is being aided to be well by helping re-establishing their natural power within, and therefore their involvement in the process is critical to establishing a pathway toward cure. The client will then feel empowered and make the decision to close the sessions. Therapy is complete therefore when the client feels well in all aspects of their physical, mental, emotional lives and no longer require therapeutic assistance.
Client-centred brings to mind the client as the central focus of the therapy relationship; however a well informed therapist is consciously aware of themselves in the relationship and will be noting how the clients energy affects their own. Client-centred is a buzz word which could be manipulated to mean anything the user so desired however it demonstrates how the clients’ ability to be well is the central focus and sometimes, obstacle, of therapy. Therefore client-centred would indicate the client placing their health central to finding and maintaining their natural balance.
Hahnemann S (1982) Organon of Medicine