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In the last section, we discussed the danger of external disconfirmation. The focus of this section was on the client insulation technique. The basis of this technique is to devise measures to render a client more immune to external degradation through cognitive promotion.
In this section, we will discuss addressing feelings of disempowerment. Clearly, childhood sexual abuse contributes to low self esteem. As you know, between the ages of 8 and 12, children are building the personality traits they will call upon later on in life. Sexual abuse warps and interrupts this process.
♦ The Importance of Empowerment
If a client does not resolve his feelings of powerlessness, two results can occur:
David exhibited the qualities of this last option known as identifying with the aggressor. David was referred to me after he was arrested for assault and battery. While in therapy, David revealed to me that his step-father, Jim, had sexually abused him as a child. This abuse consisted of Jim pushing David into walls. As you can see, David was reenacting his abuse. By adapting the tactics of his abuser, David was trying to overcome his feelings of powerlessness.
3 Ways to Build the Foundation of Empowerment
♦ #1 - Rebuild Responsibility & Accountability
♦ #2 - Help Clients Understand Power & its Limitations
Each session, I discussed with David the various ways he controlled his environment since I last saw him. David stated, "This week, Kevin [the man he had assaulted] told me off and I didn’t hit him. I told him that I wanted to reconcile and we talked. And now we’re almost friends." By expressing and controlling his surroundings not through violent actions but through a verbal expression of emotions, David was already exhibiting his ability to regain power through healthy and positive means.
♦ Cognitive Behavior Therapy Technique: Self-Evaluation
The rest of the Self Evaluation Questions are found in the back of your manual that accompanies this Home Study Course.
Now that David could finally pinpoint the reasons he has been trying to violently control others, he is taking the initial steps towards addressing these impulses. David was starting to gain some insight into his feeling of helplessness stemming from his step-father’s behavior and not his own inherent weakness.
In this section, we discussed the idea of empowerment as the foundation for healing and how to build it: through building a sense of responsibility and accountability; through developing his understanding of his power and its limitations; and through equipping the client with knowledge and empowering skills.
In the next section, we will discuss depression and anxiety co-occurring with low self esteem. We will examine primary depression and primary anxiety disorder.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Boyd, J. E., Otilingam, P. G., & DeForge, B. R. (2014). Brief version of the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) scale: Psychometric properties and relationship to depression, self esteem, recovery orientation, empowerment, and perceived devaluation and discrimination. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 37(1), 17–23.
Burke, E., Pyle, M., Machin, K., Varese, F., & Morrison, A. P. (2019). The effects of peer support on empowerment, self-efficacy, and internalized stigma: A narrative synthesis and meta-analysis. Stigma and Health, 4(3), 337–356.
Cattaneo, L. B., & Chapman, A. R. (2010). The process of empowerment: A model for use in research and practice. American Psychologist, 65(7), 646–659.
Dunkley, D. M., Starrs, C. J., Gouveia, L., & Moroz, M. (2020). Self-critical perfectionism and lower daily perceived control predict depressive and anxious symptoms over four years. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 67(6), 736–746.
IJntema, R. C., Burger, Y. D., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2019) .Reviewing the labyrinth of psychological resilience: Establishing criteria for resilience-building programs. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol 71(4), 288-30.
What are three ways that can rebuild a client’s sense of empowerment? To select and enter your answer go to Test.
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