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Finding Empowerment (despite a dogged desire to hide)

Updated: Jan 13

- Teresa Jacobson, DBH, LPCC-S

March, 1, 2021

The concept of empowerment can typically illicit feelings of strength and power. But sometimes when challenges occur that impact confidence and self-esteem, it is natural to just want to pull the covers over our heads, or find a place to hide.

Regardless of the distress you face, working with a licensed professional clinical counselor can help.

Professional counselors have the inherent belief that "people have the capacity to move forward, change, adapt, heal, and attain optimal mental health or wellness" (Vereen, Hill, Sosa, & Kress, 2014). The impact of counseling provides clients with a greater sense of resiliency, and strength, which improves both motivation and confidence. "Professional counseling has a foundation of recognizing the uniqueness and dignity of individuals and their freedom to grow."

Counseling provides guidance to help others navigate life's difficulties (American Counseling Association, 2021). "Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals."

Empowerment is more than promoting motivation, it is the spark that ignites a burning ember of hope.

"Consequently, in its broadest sense, empowerment is the expansion of freedom of choice and action; it involves increasing one's authority and control over the resources and decisions that affect one's life" (Oladipo, 2009). "As people exercise real choice, they gain increased control over their lives. It can also be defined as the act of enabling people to act on their own in order to reach their self-defined goals."

Counseling focus is relational, strength-based, growth oriented, and empowering. "Empowerment is the catalyst and pathway for change in professional counseling and is reflected in the humanistic paradigm" (Vereen, Hill, Sosa, & Kress, 2014). "Counselors focus on collaborative goal setting and navigating client issues from a shared and mutual stance, thereby working with clients."

Sometimes in counseling, it helps to break down steps of concepts into actionable steps. The achievable stages of empowerment therapy by Funnell and Anderson (2004) are described as:

Explore the problem or issue

a) What is the hardest thing about the issue facing you?

b) Please tell me more about it.

c) Please provide specific examples of the issue.

Clarify feelings and meaning

a) What are your thoughts about this?

b) How do you think these thoughts/feelings have come to be?

Develop a plan

a) What would you like to accomplish?

b) How could the current situation be altered to help you feel better about it?

c) What would you like to accomplish in (specific time frame (1, 3 months, 1 year) from now?

d) What options do you have for completing this?

e) What are your barriers/obstacles?

f) Who could help you accomplish this?

g) What are the benefits/costs of each choice?

h) What will happen if you do nothing about it?

i) On a scale of 1-10 (10 the most important), how important to you is accomplishing this?

J) Develop an action plan for the first steps.

Commit to Action

a) Are you ready to do what it takes to solve the problem?

b) What are some steps you can take?

c) What are you going to do?

d) When will you do it?

d) How will you know if you have succeeded?

e) What is one thing you will you do right when you leave here?

Experience and Evaluate the Plan

a) How did it go?

b) What have you learned?

c) What barriers were encountered and how did you continue?

d) What, if anything, would you do differently the next time?

e) What will you do after leaving here today?

Using these strategies to cultivate empowerment helps put clients and patients at the heart of all physical and mental health services, and reduces any power differential in relationships.

When you find empowerment, you gain confidence, self-esteem, motivation, self-respect, and resilience.

So how about we kick off those covers and hold our heads high?


Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio and Kentucky adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached by emailing, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting



American Counseling Association (2021). What is professional counseling? Retrieved from

Funnell, M.M. and Anderson, R.M. (2004). Empowerment and self management of diabetes. Clinical

Diabetes, (22)3:123-127. Retrieved From

Oladipo, S.E. (2009). Psychological empowerment and development.

Vereen, L. G., Hill, N.R., Sosa, G.A., and Kress, V. (2014). The synonymic nature of professional counseling

and humanism: Presuppositions that guide our identities. Journal of Humanistic Counseling. 53,

191-202. DOI:10.1002/j.2161-1939.2014.00056x


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