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Power in the Therapy Room - Erin Stevens

On the 13th and 14th October 2018 I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend Nick Totton’s Power in the Therapy Room workshop at Aashna. As I reflect upon my experience of the weekend, the first sense that emerges for me is the warmth with which I was welcomed by Pretish and Shammi, and the homely atmosphere that they have so lovingly created at Aashna. Although this was my first visit, and I had never met any of the other participants in person before, I immediately felt as though I was among old friends. I found Nick to be an authentic and generous facilitator; his greatest offering to us would be the space to discover the meanings that power holds for us, to explore our own power and to become aware of the subtler manifestations of power in the therapy room. He held that space exquisitely; undoubtedly aware of his own power as facilitator, he did not dominate the space, but rather he encouraged our curiosity and creativity, as a group and as individuals. The themes of the workshop were explored as a whole group, as well as in triads and pairs, through discussion, roleplay, group supervision and a session demonstration. I came away feeling differently about my own relationship with power – as a therapist, as a client and indeed in all my relationships. Going into this workshop, my perception was that my power is directly in correlation with the power of the other – i.e. if my power is greater, theirs is diminished. Understanding power as something that can exist alongside the power of the other, as opposed to over them, allows me to embrace the power I hold as a therapist, rather than to try and dismiss or run from it. I think power which is denied is a far more dangerous presence that that which is acknowledged and used mindfully. I also have new insight into the power of the client, which manifests in ways I did not recognise as power, and this new awareness will undoubtedly help me make sense of what might be happening in the therapy room both with clients and in my own therapy. Above all, I travelled back to Yorkshire feeling the warm, glowing effects of therapeutic holding and acceptance which I experienced from every member of the group. I will fondly remember sitting around the table at lunchtime, eating delicious Indian food in an atmosphere of laughter and friendship. Aashna really is a home from home.   

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