Power matters. It is the energy behind all our relationships. We all want to feel more on top of things; to feel more empowered. We hear about personal power all the time but what is it and why does it matter? Why is it so important?
It is no coincidence that it shares its name with the electrical power; it has a lot in common with it. Just like electricity, relational power flows. It moves from person to person in a relationship. Sometimes this feels energising. Many times it feels draining; it leaves one person in the relationship feeling powerless. You can probably think of relationships you have been in where you felt just that, it's all too common! The worst thing is, once you're in that relationship, you feel too powerless to leave. Sound familiar? That's when people get stuck and start looking for help.
Here's the catch though. Relationship power is felt by the person with the least power; nobody likes to feel like they are the underdog. It hurts. The person on top might not even know they are taking power from you. They can't feel it because it just doesn't hurt them. So they keep on taking your power and don't even know they're doing it!
So power matters. In fact, really understanding power can be the key to good counselling.
Power matters to counsellors. Counsellors have to be smart enough to spot when they take your power away and do something about it. This can be hard to do because having power feels OK, but getting the power share right is crucial. It is the job of the counsellor to spot power inequality and redress it. That way, you get empowered enough to move your life forward.
Take a minute to get a feel for how power works in your relationships. It's a great tool to help you know whether your relatioships are working for you.
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About Nicola Barton
I started out as GP and following that, a Psychiatrist. I qualified as a Counsellor with an MA in Person Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling in 2015.
Power relations in psychiatric discourse became my special interest and my research studied the effects of psychiatric power.
Currently, I work in private practice as a person centred counsellor.