Courses

Power, Privilege, and Difference in the Clinical Relationship

About the Course

Power dynamics pervade all of our interpersonal relationships, and the therapeutic relationship is no exception. 

This course will provide students with critical information about how power dynamics play out in the context of body-to-body interactions, with special emphasis on how the ongoing dance of nonverbal communication between therapist and client can support trust, rapport, and empathy. 

Using an intersectional approach, students will have an opportunity to experience and practice working with key concepts such as kinesthetic empathy, asymmetrical nonverbal interactions, performativity, and body norms.

Unpacking and transforming the complex power relationships between practitioner and client requires that the practitioner be willing to undertake an examination of their own relationship to social power, their own history of oppression and privilege, and how their lived experiences show up in their own bodies. This module is intended to support a process of gentle but rigorous self-discovery that allows practitioners to begin to identify their blind spots and become more transparent and responsive in navigating power differentials with their clients.
This module provides the conceptual underpinnings for an embodied approach to understanding oppression, including a discussion of nonverbal microaggressions, asymmetrical nonverbal interactions, and the traumatic impact of oppression.
Module 3 introduces a model for working with the embodied experiences of oppression that clients bring to a mindbody therapy session, and provides strategies for facilitating the exploration of each phase of the model.
Our bodies hold our experiences of oppression as much as our minds do – perhaps more. This module explores how creating and sharing embodied narratives (body stories) can be a path for healing and transformation in the context of mindbody therapy.

Students who take this course will:

  • How to appreciate the role that their own lived experience plays in the clinical relationship
  • Identify potential triggers and blind spots in their understanding of power, privilege and difference
  • Identify nonverbal microaggressions in the clinical relationship
  • Understand our bodies as sites for sociocultural norms
  • Recognize asymmetrical interactions between client and practitioner
  • Work with experience, reflection, meaning making, and experimentation in the process of transforming embodied experiences of oppression
  • Appreciate oppression as something we learn and can unlearn
  • Recognize the role of body stories in the therapy process, and when they might be contraindicated
  • Trace the similarities and differences across a variety of body stories
  • Utilize somatic techniques for developing body stories with clients

About Rae Johnson

Dr. Rae Johnson, Ph.D., RSMT, is a scholar/activist and registered somatic movement therapist who chairs the Somatic Studies in Depth Psychology doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. The author of several books, including Elemental Movement, Knowing in our Bones, and Embodied Social Justice, Rae teaches and trains internationally on embodied activism, somatic research methods, and the poetic body.

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  • Access to this course
  • Member Only Content
    Unlimited access to premium articles, special podcast series, and other member only content.
  • EPTV Streaming Video Service
    Access to EPTV Original Series and our video library of over 250+ hours of lectures, talks and workshops.
  • Wisdom School Courses
    Access to 60+ on-demand courses plus two new courses every month.
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