When Sigmund Freud first pioneered the psychoanalytic method, it was all about interpreting what was wrong with someone, and giving them a diagnosis. The idea was that a person could come in, describe their symptoms, their dreams, and their thoughts, and the psychoanalyst would diagnose them based on the factors they saw. While this had the appealing simplicity of treating mental illness like a malfunctioning car, where a mechanic could locate the source of a problem just by listening, it mostly didn't work. It didn't work for a variety of reasons, but one of them was the client's lack of involvement in their own treatment.
Psychology has made big strides since those early days, and one of the aspects that has become more prevalent is the idea of client empowerment. This concept, in a nutshell, allows people to further connect to their own sense of agency in their lives and to be active and equal participants in their own therapy care.
What is Empowerment?
Empowerment is the idea that someone can gain a sense of control within their lives by taking measures to increase their autonomy and self-determination. It allows someone the power and responsibility of being the captain of their own ship, in many ways, and it can be a very freeing experience for those going through counseling.
However, it can be a difficult idea to wrap your head around. Especially if you have had your agency taken away from you by aspects of your life, or the conditions you deal with. The key is to recognize your own wants, your capabilities within a situation, and take an active role in your own decisions. Another element of empowerment is increasing mindfulness skills that allow you to move from merely reacting to making intentional choices.
Empowerment is Part of The Solution, But Not A Cure-All
The ability to feel like a force in our own lives is extremely important for finding the wherewithal to withstand the challenges we face. However, being empowered does not mean we don't still have problems. The goal is to see that we are actors in our lives, and that we can take steps to change the things in our lives that negatively affect us.
For example, someone with depression who is empowered by counseling does not cure their depression. It's still there. The point is that being empowered allows someone to see their actions as extensions of their will. Someone goes to treatment not because they have to, but because they are making the decision to do so. The same for taking medication, or for enduring situations that can be triggering. You are not doing these things because some vague outside force makes you; you're doing them because you recognize it is best for you, and your decisions matter.
Sometimes that's all it takes to start down the road to more effective treatment.
For more information on empowerment, and how it can change your counseling, simply contact us today!