Have you ever availed yourself of individual or couples’ counseling sessions in which the counselor made you feel as though you could overcome your problems if you are willing to work at them? If so, you have likely spent time with a therapist who believes in the concept of empowering clients. This idea of empowerment isn’t embraced by every therapist or counselor, but it is embraced by many.
Empowerment is based in the belief that people can heal from their emotional traumas if they want to. They just have to be taught how to do it. Sometimes they have to be led through the process by a trained counselor or therapist.
1. Opposite of the Medical Approach
There are multiple ways to look at psychotherapy and counseling. Choosing to go the empowerment route is just one option. Another option is to follow the medical model. The medical model is as disagreeable to some therapists as the empowerment model is to others.
A medical approach to psychotherapy is based on the idea that the patient is flawed in some way. There is something broken that must be fixed. Unfortunately, this approach can be counterproductive to patients. When patients are led to believe they are inherently flawed, they may adopt the mindset that they will be flawed forever.
The other challenging part of the medical approach is its attitude toward healing. If a patient is inherently flawed, they need the help of a professional to fix whatever is broken. This encourages the patient to put entirely too much hope in the therapist.
2. Empowering Patients to Heal
The empowerment approach works from the opposite direction. It is not a matter of whether a patient is inherently flawed. Rather, the patient’s problems are recognized simply as existing. Then the patient is led toward the understanding that they have all the resources within to heal.
Empowering patients to heal does not force them to rely on the skills and knowledge of the therapist. It gives them permission to explore the way they think and feel as they do. In fact, it encourages them to do so. Only when they understand what is going on in their own hearts and minds can they find a true path towards healing. At least that is what the empowerment approach is based on.
3. More Than One Way
Perhaps you are now wondering if either empowerment or a medical approach to therapy is the best way to go, to the exclusion of all others. If you were to ask the Experts at Relationships & More, a counseling provider in New York’s Westchester County, they would tell you ‘no’.
There isn’t just one way to approach couples’ therapy, adolescent counseling, or even individual counseling. Just like there is no single way to treat injury and illness, there is no one method of helping patients overcome emotional trauma. Patients are different in their thoughts and emotions. Their circumstances are different. The types of problems they are trying to overcome differ in both scope and context.
The most successful therapists do not adopt a single approach and then never deviate. They remain open to all the possibilities at any given time. In some cases, patients really do need an approach that recognizes their troubles from a medical standpoint. Other times, patients need to be empowered.
The thing to remember is that the empowerment mindset is one of helping patients understand they already have the tools and resources to heal. Once they understand that, it is a matter of teaching them how to use those tools and resources effectively.