Potential and Risks of Power in the Helping Process

Vladimir Labath

OBJECTIVES: The partial research outcomes of power application in the helping process are presented. The implications for social work practice are the core part of the contribution. The aim of the paper is to identify productive manifestations of power behavior in the context of care. THEORETICAL BASE: The phenomenon of power is analysed from individual and institutional perspectives. Emphasis is given to productive modes of power. METHODS: Focus group interviews were applied in the research. Professionals from four different residential institutions composed the research sample. OUTCOMES: Following key factors of power application were identified – individual approach of a caring professional (motivation, behaviour, responsibility), and institutional social system. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Power is present in every helping relationship and system. Constructive application of power assumes identification, acceptance, reflexion, regulation, cultivation of power behaviour, and perception of risks of power influence on a client and a social worker, as well. From the point of a treatment the recognition of power, its potential and consequences are essential.

power, types of power, motivation, power behaviour, responsibility

p. 62-71

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