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Two Faces of Power: Oppression and Trauma in and out of Therapy: Video Course

Two Faces of Power: Oppression and Trauma in and out of Therapy: Video Course

Most of the trauma we encounter in our work involves an imbalance of power in our clients’ lives – creating a dynamic of the oppressor and the oppressed. These oppressive patterns become deeply embodied as an expression of trauma in the ground. As psychotherapists and counsellors, we are all familiar with the implicit biases and imbalances of power based on gender, race, religion, age, sexuality, social class, wealth and privilege. Often when individuals come to therapy for trauma, they are aware of the alienation they feel, but not able to process or pinpoint the oppression they have faced due to these implicit biases and imbalances of power.

Video course packs, including all notes are available immediately on booking. The access links are part of your ticket. Online video access remains available for 1 year from the date you receive the video course.

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$180.50

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Course Credits

CPD: 6 / CE: 6

Speaker(s)

Miriam Taylor

Course length in hours

6 hrs of video content

Full course information

The power dynamics in therapy can continue to enforce these existing oppressive imbalances and marginalise certain groups – something we might inadvertently overlook as therapists. Needless to say, therapy is never just about the person sitting in front of the therapist, but also very much about the implicit values and assumptions they both make about one another’s way of being in the world.

In this cutting-edge and therapeutically oriented two-evening workshop, Miriam Taylor will first explore the ways that powerpresents in the client’s life outside the therapy room – which can be in the form of an implicitly controlling partner, bullying supervisor, toxic friendship or parental power play. Daily microaggressions such as well-meaning straight friends/family bringing up the sexuality of a gay client, as though their sexual orientation is what identifies or defines them, can also be an ever-present oppressive marker in a client’s life. Recognising this can be the first step in the journey towards healing and empowering the client. We will then explore the structures that can mirror the experience of trauma for the client within the therapy room, such as:

  • Maintaining power dynamics between therapist and client by positioning the therapist as the expert, with little room for feedback and informed consent
  • Overemphasizing individual choice and self-responsibility without the acknowledgment of lack of choice/control in systemic oppressions
  • Avoiding topics of race and how it plays into the traumatic experience
  • Dismissing appropriate emotional responses to oppression such as rage

Following on from this discussion, we will then take a systems perspective to widen the frame of understanding and get underneath the dynamics that are often implicit and potent forces in therapy. As Judith Herman says: Trauma therapy must begin with understanding history. A look at intersectionality will add nuance and complexity to the frame when as therapists we live and work in multicultural societies. For example, if you are a well-educated, Caucasian, heterosexual female therapist providing therapy to a young Black/Hispanic/Asian disadvantaged person, how do you traverse the implicit biases of class, race and privilege coming into play?

In the second part of the workshop, we will look at practical examples of how these dynamics can be unconsciously re-enacted within the therapy. We will include the therapist’s own relationship to power and oppression in order to better engage with them as they inevitably emerge in the consulting room. Difficulties that can emerge in the therapy room may include:

  • Clients perceiving that therapist is glossing over the differences of privilege, gender or race as if these are unimportant
  • Clients finding assumptions about their class or background unhelpful or irrelevant, showing a lack of understanding of their cultural context

Implicit bias is presented as an opportunity for deepening our curiosity about differences. As therapists, it is imperative that we are aware of the importance of the power differential and lack of equality in the therapeutic relationship – and how we can equip ourselves to deal with these implicit imbalances sensitively and humanely.

Finally, we will develop some ways of reframing power as something that is supportive to both therapist and client. Here we will examine the distinguishing characteristics between power over and power with. Power Over is dominant and oppressive while Power With is collaborative and enabling. We will also consider how these power paradigms function within mental health professions overall.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify aspects of parallel power operating in wider systems
  • Analyse the psychological implications of oppression and distinguish between power over and power with
  • List four different classes of trauma and how they intersect
  • Explain the meaning of minority experience and our responses to difference
  • Discuss our own relationship to power and how we use it
  • Analyse our position as a therapist within systems that holds power

© nscience 2023 / 2024

What's included in this course

What you’ll learn

In this cutting-edge and therapeutically oriented two-evening workshop, Miriam Taylor will first explore the ways that power presents in the client’s life outside the therapy room – which can be in the form of an implicitly controlling partner, bullying supervisor, toxic friendship or parental power play. Daily microaggressions such as well-meaning straight friends/family bringing up the sexuality of a gay client, as though their sexual orientation is what identifies or defines them, can also be an ever-present oppressive marker in a client’s life. Recognising this can be the first step in the journey towards healing and empowering the client.

Learning objectives

  • Identify aspects of parallel power operating in wider systems
  • Analyse the psychological implications of oppression and distinguish between power over and power with
  • List four different classes of trauma and how they intersect
  • Explain the meaning of minority experience and our responses to difference
  • Discuss our own relationship to power and how we use it
  • Analyse our position as a therapist within systems that holds power

About the speaker(s)

Miriam Taylor is a British Gestalt psychotherapist (UKCP registered), supervisor and trainer who has been in private practice since 1995. Her background was in adult education before training as a counsellor and psychotherapist. She was clinical lead of a young peoples’ service and for several years worked in a specialist trauma service. Miriam’s particular interest is in the integration of trauma and the role of the body from a wide relational field perspective. She supports her work in part through her deep connection to the natural world and has undertaken a Wilderness Experience in the USA. She teaches in the UK and internationally, has been a trainer, Academic Consultant and examiner for Metanoia Institute, London, and is on the Leadership Team of Relational Change. Publications include her book  ‘Trauma Therapy and Clinical Practice: Neuroscience, Gestalt and the Body’ 2014, and several peer reviewed and invited articles. Her second book ‘Deepening Trauma Practice’ was released in 2021.

nscience UK is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. nscience UK maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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