Empowerment in Psychotherapy

The final theme in my book covers how to promote empowerment in psychotherapy with survivors of sexual violence. This is especially important given that sexual violence is inherently disempowering as automatic survival responses come to life as fight, fight, or freeze in the moment.

Afterwards these responses may keep happening, alongside a wider society that prefers the truth of sexual violence to stay silent. As such, survivors can’t participate in their own lives, relationships, and communities as they have a right to do.

Freedom of movement, autonomy, and speech can be used in therapy to promote empowerment. Increasing free movement means making therapeutic support accessible within communities, as not everyone can make use of therapy as it is formally offered in the mental health system.

Freedom of autonomy and speech is found primarily in language. The ways that survivors can use their voices and change thoughts around their lived experiences is freeing when it happens on their own terms, with their own frame of reference as a starting point.

These three freedoms can extend outside of the therapy room as political principles in the push back against the injustice of the wider issue. Therapists can advocate with, and on behalf of, survivors using these principles to create social change collectively.


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