In our series about the definition of Counseling we are to the part about “that empowers.” As a reminder, let me quote the entire definition as set forth by the American Counseling Association:

“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

In looking at definitions of the word empower, I find dictionaries that say the word means to give power to, to equip. It sounds like more of a bequeathing or giving from a place of power.

As a Counselor, I  would like to share how I understand this word. In a Counselor’s view, the person coming to receive the benefits of Counseling has a wisdom within themselves that has been obscured, or covered up, for some reason. The person or family has not been able to see their brilliance or have access to it. Through the process of Counseling, the person gradually understands themselves better which opens them up to seeing their inherent wisdom. Their situation, relationship, or struggle has temporarily blocked their ability to experience themselves or their situation as wonderful and strong. This is also called the strength-based approach. We each have the strength to be here right now. Something has gotten us to that point. We are not dead yet. What strength has prevailed up until now. Let us explore what a person naturally brings with them, just because they are. When I have a new client, even before we meet in person, I communicate subtly their worth, power, preferences, choice. It is not a “here, let me give you a fish for dinner.” It is more like, “you can fish, let me show you how.” It is not a top-down approach. It is a “with-ness.” Let me be with you on your journey and let us explore what you can learn to keep you from falling.