The 'I Am Powerless' Myth

Posted by M ws On Thursday, August 9, 2012 0 comments
In an article in Psychology Today titled Combatting the 'I’m Powerless' Myth Dr. Bill Knaus, Ed.D. in Science and Sensibility wrote:

Do people who repeatedly put themselves through an emotional wringer suffer from a denial of responsibility for extending a self-sabotaging lifestyle? Dr. Jon Carlson, Distinguished Professor, Governors State University, and author or coauthor of over 45 books, hones in on a major therapeutic and self-help challenge that both Albert Ellis, the founder of rational emotive behavior therapy, and Alfred Adler, the founder of Individual Psychology, saw as pivotal to positive change: Stop complaining and blaming and start taking responsibility for your own self-changing.

Albert Ellis frequently told me how his REBT approach shared so much in common with the work of Alfred Adler. Perhaps the most apparent similarity, and the focus of this blog, is the notion of the client’s responsibility or their role in the problem that brought them to therapy.

Counselors are traditionally trained to listen empathically and to capture the essence of each client’s message. The goal is to become a mirror so clients can see their problem from a different perspective and develop an alternative response.

Unfortunately, too many clients are unaware of their role in their own problem and act as though they are powerless because they did not do anything wrong. They sound like whiners talking about their problems as if they had nothing to do with them. They continue to think and speak as if life is unfair to them and fail to see their role in any aspect of the problem. They have unfair bosses, disloyal friends, insensitive partners and so on. Nowhere in their conceptualization of the problem do they see themselves. The counselor who listens and reflects unintentionally communicates to clients that they have a valid point of view (i.e., that everything happens to them and they are powerless).


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