EP96 Respecting Autonomy While Positively Influencing Your Child with Guest Lara Okoloko LCSW

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
EP96 Respecting Autonomy While Positively Influencing Your Child with Guest Lara Okoloko LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Lara Okoloko and Heather discuss the delicate balance of influence and autonomy in parent-child relationships, particularly in the context of addiction. Lara empathizes with parents caught in the bind of being blamed for the negative aspects of enabling without receiving any credit for the positive influence they may have.
She shares personal insights, reflecting on the power dynamics and responsibilities that come with being a helper, the importance of respect and autonomy in relationships, and the need for a balanced approach to supporting loved ones with substance use disorder.
Her passion for reducing stigma and respecting self-determination in supporting individuals with substance use disorders is evident.
With Lara’s expertise and relatable experiences, this episode offers valuable insights and a fresh perspective on navigating the complexities of parent-child relationships and supporting loved ones through their recovery journey.
In this episode, you will be able to:

Uncover the impact of mixed messages when supporting a
loved one with substance use disorder, and how to navigate them effectively.
Embrace humility and respect in relationships to
strengthen your role in your loved one’s recovery journey.
Explore the influence and autonomy in parent-child
relationships, and how to strike a healthy balance.
Discover the profound impact of helpers’ words and
actions on the recovery journey of their loved ones.

Contact Lara: https://www.caresnw.com/

Resources From Heather Ross Coaching

GROUP COACHING PROGRAM –  Peace of Mind Group for moms

Get answers and support to help you and your child Sign up for a 45-minute $17 Road to Recovery call with me using the link below

Invitation to Change Learning/Support Group Use the link below to find out about the group Heather is hosting.

Guide about enabling – If you’ve ever worried about enabling, this guide is for you!

The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:02 – Introduction to Laura Okoloko

00:01:26 – Mixed Messages for Parents

00:02:52 – Lack of Positive Influence Recognition

00:05:43 – Influence vs. Control

00:16:36 – Balancing Autonomy and Support

00:18:57 – The Importance of Humility in Coaching

00:22:04 – Finding the Balance of Influence

00:23:36 – Using Influence Deliberately

00:26:33 – Understanding Power Dynamics

00:29:51 – Defining Success in Relationships

00:36:39 – The Power of Words in Helping Relationships

00:38:53 – Power Dynamics in Relationships

00:40:12 – Normalizing Control in Uncontrollable Situations

00:41:45 – Redesigning Support for Substance Use Disorders

00:43:16 – Closing Thoughts and Reflections

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/heather-ross9/message


This transcript has not been formatted or edited.


I’m Heather.

After many wasted years trying outdated approaches to my daughter’s addiction that felt wrong to me, harmed our relationship, and didn’t help my daughter, I finally found an effective evidence based approach that repaired my relationship with her, helped me create my own Peace of Mind, and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery.


I teach you a loving and compassionate approach to help you encourage change and create connection.

Addiction impacts the entire family system.

Family recovery is the answer.

If you’re listening to this before March 2nd, the Peace of Mind group coaching program for mothers is open for enrollment.


Most moms feel like they’re in this alone.

They’re tired.

They feel like they need more support, and the Peace of Mind group coaching program is where you’ll not only find that support you’ve been looking for, but also the tools and strategies that you need to decrease the stress and chaos to support positive change in your son or daughter and to start feeling like a good mom again.


Like, that’s not too much to ask.

That’s all we want.

We just want to feel like a good mom.

So enrollment closes end of the day, March 1st.

So go to the show notes and there’s a link there to find out more about the Group Coaching program.


Or you can go to heatherrosscoaching.com and click on the Group coaching link there.

Today’s guest, Laura Okoloco, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA.

She is passionate about improving the quality and choices of services available to people with substance use disorder and their families.


As a therapist, she works with families experiencing addiction and mental illness to encourage their connection with one another to come out on the other side of recovery together using a respectful, collaborative and solution focused approach, Laura is also certified in the Evidence Based Practice of Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT.


In addition to her therapy practice, Laura teaches the Social Work Program at the University of Washington and offers trainings and craft and motivational interviewing for therapists, coaches, counselors, and peer helpers.


So thank you for being here today, Laura.

Thank you, Heather.

So Laura’s been on the podcast one other time.

I’ll put that episode in the show notes.

We talked about harm reduction, and today this episode came out of a conversation about the mixed messages that parents get that on one hand we’re told that there is nothing that we can do to help somebody unless they’re ready.


And then on the other hand, we’re told that if we do try to help or control that, we’re enabling them.

So it’s like, are we powerful or powerless?

And so we thought that would make a great episode to at least a starting point to talk about.


So Laura, would you, do you want to share what came up for you when you were thinking about that?

Yes, I was thinking about this after listening to you talk to another guest and it made me think about as parents and I really had enough empathy for you and listening to you talk about it on that episode.


About these.

Extreme ideas of either having being blamed for enabling.

Because whenever we talk about enabling, we always talk about it in a negative sense, enabling negative behaviors, of catching blame for negative influence.



No encouragement or credit or discussion of positive influence that I I hear you and others, other parents being told you know there’s nothing you can do till they’re ready.

People won’t change until they’re ready to change.


There’s nothing you can do.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say there’s nothing you can do to help someone until they want it for themselves.

And so there was something about.

The way that you were.

Talking about.

It that it really.

That that bind really stood out to me of.


Like how do you get?

How do you catch blame for the bad part but no credit for any good part?

Yeah, yeah.

And I hadn’t really thought about it in exactly those words until you said something to me about it.

But in that episode I was after hearing how another mom had really overcome stigma and was really brave enough to be a rule breaker and do things in the way that felt right to her.


Of course, I started having those thoughts of why didn’t I do that?

And really, once again, seeing how hard it has been for me to get over stigma about what’s right and what’s wrong and how I think I’m still trying to shed that conditioning but still creeps up in in different little ways, I’ll I’ll see it.


So it hurts to hear that, that there was a different way, but that we’re told that we can’t help and just how much it causes so much more pain.

It’s so frustrating.



And if, if.

Those ideas?

Were true.

If it was really nothing you can do for somebody else, then you should.

Also be totally free.

From ever being blamed for something like enabling.



You have no influence.

That’s the message, right?

You can’t influence somebody.

Yeah, yeah.

And I think that we are also talking about the difference between influence and control and how we’re told kind of like the three CS.

You didn’t ’cause it, you can’t control it or cure it, But we aren’t told about.


Like you can positively influence with the right approach and some help with really being able to sit with uncomfortable emotions, have that self-awareness of where we’re coming from, be able to to pause and stop before we try to influence.


Like, we kind of have to get a good foundation going before we try to get that positive influence.

But all we’re told is what we can’t do instead of what we can do.

That’s why when I found the book Beyond Addiction, I was like, this is what I’ve been looking for all along.


I used to Google.

I’d be laying up in bed at night, I couldn’t sleep, and I’d be Googling how I could help my daughter, and all I could find was how I could help her when she was already in recovery.

I could never find what to do.


I’m like, there has to be something that I can do to help her right now when she doesn’t want help.

Like what can I do even to just support her where she is even, And there was just never anything about that.



And I I.

Agree with those three, CSI.

Think those things are true, but what we’re talking?

About is the lack.

Of analysis about influence, and I think influence is part of all relationships.


It is just an inherent element of relationships is that we influence each other sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes in healthy ways, sometimes in unhealthy ways.

But even.

I mean, if we think about you and me, we we’re.


Colleagues, we.

Are familiar with each other.

We’re not in very close relationship.

We’re not like best friends or family members, but even in our connection that we.

Have to each other.

You and I influence each other.

And if we think about like, coming to this conversation, what?


Ways did you try to?

Influence me in this conversation we’re having right now.

What comes to mind?

What ways I tried to influence you to for this conversation?

Well, I tried to influence you to have the conversation.


Uh huh?

You asked.


That was an influence.


And planning, trying to get some ideas to make sure that we had like a well-rounded approach to the episode.


So you gave me some questions to consider and you even the framing of those questions then influence the things I thought about before coming to this conversation, right.


If you had asked me different questions or framed the questions differently, I would have thought about other.

Things, Yeah.


And so that’s influence, right?

You’re influencing me.

And so then I come to this conversation.

I influenced you.


Reached out to you after.


Listening to your episode and said wow, here are my thoughts about this.

And so that was an attempt to influence your thinking about it.

And so all of that is influence.

Do I feel controlled?

Do I feel like you’re trying to control what I?

Say yeah, and there’s.


That also comes from mutual respect in our relationship.

Mm hmm.

The just the way.

So that comes from the way that we’ve always interacted and that my approach to well and your approach to me, we approached each other with curiosity, interest, and what each other had to say.


And I think we’d even be open to the idea that the one of us might provide information for the other one that could actually change our mind about something.

Yes, OK, I love.

That you’re saying this because you’re making these connections between.


That you feel.

And I would say the same about myself.

But you’re saying you feel respected by me and you don’t feel like I’m trying to control you.

And so when you feel respected, you then feel open to my influence.


And I can say all the same things in the other direction.

And so there’s a relationship here between respect for autonomy and respect.

For each.

Other and openness to influence from one another.

So if I had emailed.


You to say?

You’ve got it wrong.

You shouldn’t have said that on your.

Podcast you should say.

This other thing instead you probably wouldn’t have thought.

Wow, I.

Really want to know more?

About Laura’s thoughts about.

This I’m going to invite her on my.

Podcast to talk about it.

Right, if I had come at you with a controlling energy.


You probably would have had.

Been less open to influence from me.

Yeah, I don’t even know if I would have responded.


But not responding at all would have been the way that you.

Would have protected yourself.

From control and coercion.


Right, you would have said.

Stay away from me, Don’t talk to me about.

Your thoughts about this?


You would have made sure to not be influenced.

You would have reduced that.

Opportunity for me to influence.

But if you had heard something that you were were questioning and you said it to me in a way, like I’m just curious why you said this, I’d love to hear the background to understand that better or I’d like to present this idea.


Have you thought about this?

I would have been.

Again, back to curiosity.

Even though there’s a possible disagreement in here, but it feels safe to continue this conversation with you even in that.



And something that I talked to my clients about is to make sure that we don’t go.

Astray if we go too far with this idea.

Of influence.

So now I’m talking about how I’ve been able to be influential to you, and how you’ve been influential to me and my approach and my respect.


For you all the these.


Now, I don’t get to keep going down that road to think now that I’m being influential now I’m going to be able to control you.

And I think sometimes that we we can make a mistake in thinking that.

All of this.


Great conversation about influence means.

It’s like a back.

Door to control.

It’s not the same thing as control, because control.

Lacks the respect for the.

Autonomy and dignity of the other person it tends to.


Be coercive or.

Even violent, it’s not what we’re talking about when we say influence is a part of all relationships and it’s healthy, it’s there’s nothing unhealthy about influence.

We are all doing it to each other all the time.


Sometimes a lot.

Sometimes a little.

And you and I just.

Talked about these two parts of it.

There’s the.

Me, the person wanting to be influential, and there’s my behaviour that either makes people want to be influenced or not.

And then there’s the other person.

How open are you to influence?


And that might.

Be because of what you’re.


Am I feeling respected?

Do I feel like I get to make my own decision about this?

And also, sometimes it’s just the person itself, sometimes there are some.

People who are very.

Open to influence in positive ways.


I can listen to other people’s opinions and say, wow, that’s so interesting.

I don’t agree, but wow, that’s interesting.

Or there’s.

Open to influence in a way that maybe feels not as positive, like I have a hard time knowing what I think and feel, so I tend to be very susceptible.



Kind of joining with other.


In a way that doesn’t really feel authentic to me.

And then sometimes people are very they find they’re very closed off to influence from other people and that tends to not, you tend to not have a lot of intimacy in relationships.


If you’re very closed off.

In that way so these.

Are like this these?

Are dynamic things.

It’s not as.

Easy as like.

All or nothing.

Yeah, yeah.

And I was just thinking my podcast that came out yesterday was about connection and talking about how when you have connection you have influence.


But that are really important.

Part of me gaining influence was Helana was that I saw my influence as a privilege and not a right.

And I used it sparingly because I I think of it like a bank account.


When you create connection, you’re making little tiny deposits.

When you use.

Your influence.

You’re taking a huge withdrawal.

And that even though I did all this work for connection, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to equal influence.


If it does, that’s wonderful.

It’s a privilege that she’s allowing me to influence her, but it was never my right to influence her that there’s this I started seeing.

I kind of got rid of that mother, daughter, all these roles and saw her more as like an an equal person You use like with autonomy, like you said that she had full rights to whether she accepted what I was offering or not.



With that kind of language that you’re using really sounds like respect for her autonomy, that you really wanted to see her as not just a thing from you, your daughter.

But a full.


Person and that you were seeing her as being having a right to make decisions for.

Herself to be self.

Governing another word we use in social.

Work is about.

Respecting self determination as an inherent.


That all people have.


Which includes self determining to behaviors that make us uncomfortable or that make us.

Sad or that are risky.

And I think that’s where it’s way more challenging.

We don’t think about autonomy and self determination when we’re all in agreement and driving together.


We think about those things when it feels sticky and uncomfortable and there’s disagreement there.

That’s the only time that it really matters whether we’re respecting autonomy.

Yeah, How do you?

I know that it’s really hard for parents to like.


They’re stuck between wanting to respect autonomy and feeling like they should do something because of the harmful behavior.

Like how do you help parents manage their figure out on their own?


Like where are you allow it and where you step in?

I don’t think there is an easy answer.

For that or.

Something that would fit for everybody, I think.

I’ll say for me.

There’s a parallel here.

Between as a clinical social.


Worker A lot of these.

Things that I’m helping families.

With I practice.

Them myself with my clients.

So I am wanting to have a positive influence on people and also.

I have to respect each.

Of my clients and their self determination and their autonomy and maybe make decisions that I would prefer they did something else and so where I think the answer to that for me is that I.


Should feel.

That there’s some tension there.

I should feel.

That there’s some tension between my obligation to my clients and my effort to be helpful and my desire to.


Be a.

Positive influence on them and their autonomy as as their own person.

Who have?

Values that may not always be the same as mine, that are making do the best they can in the situation they’re in, and that to me that tension is not resolvable.


Because it should be there.

Yeah, I’m thinking about.

I’ve worked with people who they are not capable.

They don’t feel it’s good for them emotionally to remain in contact with their child, even though that is a value for me.


I would never push that person to do something they didn’t feel was right for them or.

And also I recognize that if I did well, when I would be taking advantage of our relationship and I wouldn’t be respecting their autonomy.


But then I’m thinking, I know what’s best for them and I don’t ’cause I don’t know if it wouldn’t be more damaging to them.

They have a they have the relationship or go through what they would see every day to have it.

Like I have to respect and support them in what they feel is best for them at that time.


Yes, and you’re weaving in another concept.

Here, which is that you?

Are talking in some ways about humility.

To bring humility to this work, to know that ultimately you don’t know what the best thing is for anybody.


And I don’t know that either.

And so I think that’s.

A piece.

That often is missing in coaching for families around substance use.

Is that often?

It’s like there’s easy answers.

There’s one good way I know what’s best for you, I’m going to tell.


You what you have to do.

You have to do this.

You have to do that.

And I just think, Yikes, We don’t know what’s best for people in each moment of their lives.

And I mean, I just can’t know that I’ve.

I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of families with this with very similar problems, and I still don’t get to know the right thing for each person to do in every situation.


Yeah, because I’ll even have somebody say to me, please just tell me what to do.

And I’m like, that would be the worst possible thing I could do for you, would be to tell you what to do.

My job is to give you a framework and to help you decide what’s best for you, not for me to decide what’s best for you.


That’s a disservice this whole.

The whole goal here is to help you be able to do this without me at some point.


And so I think there are some important.

Places that we.

Should be neutral unless there is an element.


Of like safety or.

Violence, you know, other than those situations, questions that people have for me of.

Whether they should stay married.

Or leave their partner.

Whether they should kick their.

Kid out of the house or not?

I think those are places where I am neutral in the sense that I don’t know what you should or shouldn’t.


Do but I will support.

You in figuring out where’s your limits.

Those are boundaries, How you want to use your influence with this person.


Healthy for you?

What you’re.

Willing to do all these questions and then skills I can teach you skills that many people in your situation find helpful, but ultimately.


You will have to decide.

Where your limits are, what you’re willing and unwilling to do, and if.

I tell you those.

Things I really haven’t helped.

You figure that out for yourself, I’ll just.

Be one more person.

Who told you you have to do it this way?

Until you meet the next person who tells you you have to.


Do it this other way.

Yeah, and that’s exhausting.

And then thinking about, OK, So what we’re talking about how we work with a client, that similar mindset can be used for a parent to approach how they’re going to be in relationship with.



Child as far as that.

Realizing that you don’t know what’s best for them, but you want to help them make the best decisions for themselves.


And so then each person has to ask themselves questions that.


I hear you’ve asked yourself.

Questions about is there something that I maybe if we replace?

Should with could.

Is there something that I could be doing?

And then what is the cost of that?

And so if we think about like a continuum of influence is that sometimes I do think of it kind of visually in my mind with kind of a bead on a string.


And I’m trying to figure out like, you know, with some families, I think they’re leaving a lot of influence on the table.

And I think I think we could be a little more assertive here.

I think we could do more without an irreparably harming the relationship or hurting somebody.


So let’s increase how assertive we’re being.

And then in other families, I think we need to tone it down.

We need to move the bead down a.

Little further to say, let’s chill a little bit.

Let’s work on maybe some communication strategies.



Work on some warmth in the relationship.

Let’s work on some self-care.

For you, let’s help you figure out the.

Difference between boundaries and control?

Of the other.

Person and kind of work in that realm.

Because just like.

Our example at the beginning, if I had come at you in a way that felt controlling or judgmental.


You would have closed yourself off to.

Influence from me and that.

That’s just a basic principle here that is true.

In even bigger ways, in close relationship, loving relationship, family, relationship, is that like you had a metaphor?


For yourself about a bank.

Account and kind of making deposits and making withdrawals.

And so that’s some of how we think about how am I using influence.

Here like do I have?

Like a lot in the bank and I can spend a little here and see if I can influence my loved one to maybe make a decision that’s hard for them or.


To take a risk with.

Trying to talk to a new.

Therapist or whatever the.

Thing is that I’m asking or do I need to?

Back up a little bit.

And think about how to approach in a way that lets you know you, my loved one.

Know that I do.


Respect you as a person.

And I do know that.

You are.

You are.

Ultimately going to.

Decide for yourself, Yeah.


Reserved those kinds.


Influences like in safety situations like where like she had an infection, she had to go to the hospital where I would be very assertive and try to use as much influence as possible.


And my influence got me farther in those situations because I had reserved it conservatively.

But I liked the what you said about like some people are leaving influence on the table and they need to be a little bit more assertive.


It’s so hard to find the balance science experiment of figuring out what is, and it could constantly change too.

Right, but.

One moment you might have a little more leeway to their they might be more accepting to hear more from you and another time they might not be either.


And I guess that’s we’re really watching somebody’s body language and understanding that helps as well.

Yes, and I think.

It is a very tricky.

Thing for families and I’ll.

Say like as a therapist, this is a lot of.


The training for therapists is.

To figure out how to be.



Positively influential relationship with somebody and to have that balance.

Of respect or.

Autonomy for the other person because.


There’s a lot of literature about this for therapists about like if you go.

In this is kind of the whole basis of motivational interviewing that if you go in.


And pushing too hard telling.

People, what they have to do.

And of all of these.

Harsh tactics that.


It’s well documented that the reaction you get is more pushback and.

So we have to be.

Trained to not do those things because we often.

We have the urge to do it.

We have the.

Urge to tell someone Stop doing that.


That’s so unhealthy you’re making yourself.

Miserable or whatever it is.

But that’s not how therapy works.


And at least it’s not.

At least that’s not how good therapy.

Works because you will evoke.

That natural pushback from someone to say you don’t know me, you can’t tell me what to do, you don’t understand, which is what people feel like when you come at them like that.


Yeah, yeah.

And I just think about I like to use myself as an example and how I was when I I went to therapy for a couple of years before I did anything that my therapist told me to do.

And I really was not getting the changes that I wanted.

And then because she was so patient with me and we built so much trust over time and she never tried to tell me what to do, that she met me where I was.


Then suddenly one day it all came together.

And so like a lot of times it I think a huge struggle that I hear parents say is it’s not working, it’s not helping, I’m not getting anywhere and that how much patience it takes and having many measurements for what it works means.


Besides the person being in recovery, like me, says we’re more connected, We have less conflict, there’s more healthy behaviours, like there’s all kinds of different ways to see things getting better.

Yes, and this is something that.


The field of like.

Even addiction research doesn’t even agree on what working means.

Or what better is?

And so these are important questions not only for the family members, but.

Also for the.

Person with the substance use.


Does having it that it worked?


Does that mean lifelong abstinence from all substances?

Does it mean increased quality of life?

Does it mean some substance use but no longer qualifying for a substance use disorder based on your symptoms?

We don’t even have agreement about that necessarily.


If you look at.

Research about like outcomes like what’s the outcome And so I think 2 for families thinking about you had a question about kind of how do we know if it’s quote working and so to kind of cut.

Through a lot of that, I just come back to.


What is it that you’re wanting?

And is the behavior change We’re practicing getting you more of those things.

And usually for family members, the things that they’re wanting are decreased substance use, increased treatment, engagement, decreased family conflict, increased communication and respectful communication, increased relational, you know, warmth, you know, there’s a few things that most people want.


And so then we are influencing by saying let’s be deliberate.

About how you react to.

Certain things and how you approach your loved one and.

You’re part of the relational.

Dance and then let’s see if we get some change.


We can’t control the outcome.

It metaphor of a dance works really well is if I’m dancing with you the tempo that I move.

That the where I.

Place my feet.

The way that I move with you is going to influence your movement.

Can I control your dancing?



Can I make you have rhythm if you don’t have it?

No, I can’t control you that we are influencing each other and so a lot of my work with families is just helping them to be more.

Deliberate about the.


Because the influence is already happening, we are already doing it.


Yeah, I love that dance metaphor.

That because I like thinking of that rhythm too, that the relationship has and building on what’s good about it.

But I want to talk about power for a minute, because I’ve never really talked about that before.


But when I was thinking about us talking about it, I had a lot of realizations that just like my, what I believed about parenting is that I was supposed to maintain this power in the relationship, that I had this responsibility to be in, this role of being in control.


And that as a mom, I automatically had some right to some sort of power over Alana as my child.

Like, I never thought about it that way before, until I started really thinking about what wasn’t working and what needed to change in our relationship.


But I really started noticing that imbalance of power that I really I had the right to tell her what to do or treat her differently than I would treat anybody else in my life.


And where does that come from?



One of my favorite topics.

You are.

Talking about power in two different ways right now, one way is that you are acknowledging.

That you have power.

In the relationship with.

Your child, because that is.


True of parenting relationships, there is an imbalance of.


That’s just true.

There’s also other places.

Where there’s an imbalance of.

Power a therapy.

Relationship is one of.

Those The therapist has power.

In that relationship, there’s all kinds of places where power is not.



So I teach.

At a university, I am the most powerful person in the room when I’m with students.

That’s just a true.

Statement I can fail them out of.

Class, I have the power to do that.

They can’t fire me now.

Collectively, my students could gather together and decide that I need to be fired.


And they could, probably.


Their power, and they could.

Probably become quite powerful together.

OK, but it.

Doesn’t change that there’s a power dynamic in which I have more power.

So that’s an important analysis around relationships and power is to acknowledge where there’s power differences and then you talked about another.


Piece which is power over is the phrase.

That you you used.

To say that you felt like you had, should have, or could have some power over her.

And you talked about control.

Which is about a use.

Of power, and it’s a.


Particular use of power, which is to use power over other people.

And now then we’re talking about things like coercion and control.

We’re talking about something different than just influence.

So both of those.

Things I think are important acknowledgements just because we have.



Doesn’t mean we’re using it.

To have power over.

Somebody we can acknowledge that there’s a power imbalance and not be coercive and there’s other types of having power.

So one type of in feminist therapy, a therapist would be very concerned with this question of power and what it means to.



Power and one very important.

Type of power is.

Power from within.

We might think of that as feeling empowered or being empowered.

That’s not about power over anybody else.

So when I think about someone being empowered, and a lot of my work is helping people to become empowered within themselves, that includes things like knowing what you think and feel and using your voice.


To be able to express.

It to validate your own experience, to know your own truth.

Those are.

That’s about power, too.

That’s about.

Feeling empowered?

So there’s lots of feminist writers.


Laura Brown is one that I.

Have read a lot of, but there’s a lot.

Of writers, feminist writers who have written about this domain of power in ways that are more deep and nuanced than just these kind of.

Surface Ideas of Do I have power?


Over someone?

Or am I?


That is a very.


Story about power, Yeah.

And I think just one, the awareness like the what you described as your awareness of your power dynamic in the classroom or the awareness of the power dynamic between a parent and child is the first step rather than seeing the responsibility, it comes with the awareness of that power dynamic and the responsibility that comes with the awareness of the power dynamic and between a therapist and their client or a coach and their client that the respect that we want to give that and that it doesn’t entitle me to anything.



It doesn’t entitle you and we have to take.

Care with that power you talked about?

Having responsibility, right?

Those with power have responsibility.

As parents, we can hurt our children in ways that nobody can hurt anybody else, because there’s so much power there in that relationship.


I heard something a while ago and it was kind of a silly thing, but it actually really impacted me.

It really bothered me and made me think about the.

Power that we have as helpers.

You’re a.

Coach, I’m a therapist.

This way that we have to be careful with that power.

In people’s lives.

And it was a silly TikTok.


I guess I thought it was silly.

The person was being quite.

Serious about how?

They had made, they hadn’t said something to their therapist, and they’re about taking.

Really hot showers.

When they get home from work and that the.

Therapist had said.


Something in response about how people have really normalized self harm, implying that the really.

Hot shower was a self.

Harm that the person was doing.

And so the person was saying.

I had never thought of it like that before, so now I take lukewarm showers.


I just thought.

What I was so upset by this TikTok?

Thinking this poor person is never going to enjoy a shower again for.

The rest of their.

Life because their therapist made some offhand comment that was really not careful about equating a hot.


Shower with.

Self harm when I didn’t sound like this person was was doing this as if they weren’t burning themselves.

They were enjoying the feeling of a really hot shower and now they were going to deny themselves this because of this comment by a therapist that is so much.



And so it really that was a good.

Reminder for me of like I may say something that maybe was not well.

Thought out or that I.

Didn’t really intend, or maybe it was well thought out and I really did intend it, but I may not know the lasting impact I’ve had, the way I’ve influenced somebody and just.


To be careful with that.

And I think that’s.

Back to that.

Idea of humility of, you know, there’s no way I can sit in my chair declaring all day long exactly what everybody needs.

To do with their lives.

You know, and then that got me thinking about, like the power dynamic in my relationship with Helena shifting when she refused to be overpowered anymore.


And she, you know, like in the more she refused to be controlled, the more I tried to control her.

And it was like me kind of just chasing after her, trying to control her and me losing my power even over myself in the process.


And then finally coming to the realization of I’m creating this dance with how I’m approaching this, trying to control her, thinking that I should have control over her and blaming her for not wanting to be controlled and just completely stepping back from doing anything.


For a while.

So that I could figure out how to get back in balance and stop change that whole dance.

Yes, and I just want to normalize what you’re describing because while I can hear how unhelpful.

It was to both of.

You and how unhealthy?


It was to both of.

You trying to bring control to a situation that feels out of control is a normal behavior.

It is a normal response.

And so I really.

Get why you would that would be evoked in this.


Desire to control when things feel out of control.

That is what we do.

And so I think we all need equations in very normal ways.

And that can be true, and it can also be true that it’s unhealthy or unhelpful.


Yeah, we’re getting close to the end of our time.

So I was just thinking, is there anything else that you think is important to get in this conversation today or anything that you want to wrap things up with?

I guess I’m just thinking.

About the parallel we’re.

Talking about families and about.


Us as helpers is that.

All the things we’re saying are.

Also true for people with.

Substance use disorders and I think one of my the reasons I have passion around improving.

Services for people with substance.


Disorders is a lot of this has a history of.


Being being unexamined in the helping ways.

That we try to help people.

With substance use problems, and so I think we.

There’s this like circular.

Thing of being very like power over telling people.


What they have to do?

Kind of coercive demanding tactics in the helping realm for substance use disorders.

And then when we get evasiveness, push back, quote denial, all these other behaviors, then we’re like, see, see, that’s why we need to have.


More of these tactics, rather.

Than seeing that we’re in a dance and that if we can slow down and respect autonomy and self determination and reduce some of these stigmatizing ideas and beliefs about people with substance use disorders, then.


If we could really.

If we really could.

With a magic wand, get rid of stigma.

Today I think we would totally redesign how we think about helping people with substance use problems and so.

Just to say all of this is.

True for them, too.

Yeah, yeah.


I think about, I don’t know, I was reading this article about how doctors used to smoke when they were taking care of their patients.

And then Mike, someday we’re going to look back at this time period of how we’ve been approaching things and we’re going to think it’s like doctors smoking when they were taking care of their patients.


Like I I totally agree with what you just said and I really appreciate you giving the time for this conversation because I think we talked about some things that I haven’t really had the opportunity to talk about.


And the more we just open up to these ideas of the small changes we can make are a different way to even look at things.

It’s just it’s so helpful.

So thank you for your time today.

Yes, this was enjoyable as always.


Thank you.

For listening to this episode.

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