The advantages and disadvantages of retaining some power in the context of counseling can vary. They’ll depend on the person in counseling and the kind of counselor that they’re working with. Let’s look at some test cases.
One person in counseling—let’s call this person Ted—could feel quite powerful. He has confidence and high self-esteem. This could work to his advantage. His sense of power might make him less timid about following his counselor’s advice.
Conversely, a client who attributes to themselves a fair amount of power could be at a disadvantage. Ted, due to his strong sense of self, might feel that he already has most of the answers, so he regularly ignores the thoughtful suggestions from his counselor. Counseling then becomes a superficial exercise in which Ted never makes substantive progress.
Now, let’s look at a person without a lot of power. Say someone named Marv has entered counseling feeling insecure, vulnerable, and relatively powerless. This could put Marv at an advantage. His helpless state might make him more likely to heed the help that the counselor offers. Conversely, the absence of power could be a disadvantage. It’s possible that Marv will instill his counselor with too much power and follow their directions without feeling like he has a say.
Now consider how retaining power relates to counselors themselves. The counselor should want to retain some power. If their patient doesn’t think of them as possessing a semblance of authority, then they might dismiss their guidance and not improve. Retaining too much power, though, would be a disadvantage, because a counselor doesn’t want their patient to think of them as having all of the answers. Counselors should not be seen as omniscient, god-like figures.
Ideally, counseling should involve the counselor and the patient figuring out together how to heal and confront the respective issues that the patient is dealing with. While the power balance between the two is liable to change, it’s best for it to never favor one party too heavily.