The Right Use of Power: Ethical Use of Power in the Therapeutic Relationship

CE Hours: 4.0
Instructor: Hailey Shafir, LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS

A Live, Interactive Webconference
Friday, March 25, 2022, All Sites via Live Interactive Zoom

Power is a highly misunderstood and loaded word, but one highly relevant to the therapeutic relationship. A power differential is always present in the therapeutic relationship, and can be used effectively, ineffectively, or even abused. The ‘right’ use of power in the therapeutic relationship involves developing an awareness of the power differential, the implications for clients and families served, and a thoughtful application of our ethical codes.

This training will challenge clinicians to rethink the definition of power and dispel myths and biases around the word that can hinder the ethical, right use of power in therapy. Clinicians will learn about relevant research about power imbalances between counselors and clients and common misuses and abuses of power. Clinicians will be provided with interactive case studies, discussions, and breakout groups to further explore the ‘right’ uses of power in a variety of clinical situations.

As a result of participating in this training, attendees will be able to:

  1. Participants will learn about common myths and biases about power that can undermine the effectiveness of individual and family therapy and develop a more adaptive definition of power 
  2. Participants will learn about the research on power differentials in the therapeutic relationship and common ways counselors underuse, overuse, misuse and abuse power with clients and families
  3. Participants will learn about the link between the ‘right’ use of power in relation to strong rapport and therapeutic alliances, engagement in treatment, and positive outcomes in individual and family therapy
  4. Participants will apply the APA and ACA code of ethics to demonstrate the right uses of power in realistic case studies, ethical dilemmas, and clinical situations relevant to family and individual counseling


  • 8:25am-8:45am: Introductions & overview of agenda & course format
  • 8:45-10:30am:
    – Clarifying what power is, dispelling common biases, myths and misconceptions about power that can undermine treatment, and reviewing research on effective and ineffective uses of power in the therapeutic process
    – A review of common myths and biases about power that can undermine outcomes in therapy with individuals and families
    – A working definition of power as the ability to influence and direct change and literature on the power differentials present in the therapeutic relationship
    – A self-assessment of power aimed at helping attendees identify the power they have in their personal and professional lives
    – A review of 9 different types of power and those most relevant and useful to the therapeutic process, with examples and emphasis of effective/ineffective uses of power
  • 10:30-10:40am: Break
  • 10:40-12:00pm:
    – Examining power differentials in therapy, common uses, misuses, and abuses of power in the therapeutic relationship, and effective uses of power that are guided by ethical codes and guidelines
    – A discussion about the actions and approaches of effective therapists including when, why and how they use their power according to research
    – A review of the impact of right uses of power on therapeutic rapport and alliance, engagement in treatment, and outcomes in individual and family therapy
    – A review of common misuses and abuses of power in the therapeutic relationship including ethical and boundary violations
    – An examination of key components of the APA and ACA code of ethics with interactive discussions on how these apply to the ‘right use of power’ in realistic case studies, ethical dilemmas, and clinical situations
  • 12:20-12:35pm: Wrap up, summary, and Q & A

This is an intermediate level course. The target audience is behavioral health professionals working within an Ecosystemic Family Therapy Model. This is a live synchronous distance learning activity conducted in real time, allowing for simultaneous participation of participants and instructors from different locations.

About The Trainer
Hailey Shafir is a licensed clinical mental health counselor, a licensed addiction specialist, and a board-approved clinical supervisor for newly licensed mental health and addiction counselors. She has more than a decade of experience providing counseling, developing programs for at-risk youth, people struggling with addictions, and providing training and supervision for clinicians. She is the owner of several businesses including Keep Counsel, Plan-it Therapy, IndyWind, and Therapy Cred. Hailey is also a content writer and medical peer reviewer for, the National Drug Helpline, Choosing Therapy, Rehab Adviser, Searchlight, Social Pro Now, and other sites, and has worked to develop online recovery apps and programs for people struggling with addictions and impulse control disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions
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