Nocturnal Works death doula resources

Labelling As Power


When another labels you, be it a therapist or someone else, this attempt to label is a function of power, a form of control.

Control of Therapist

We may understand this statement within - say - a racist context. The person labelling you is trying to humiliate or otherwise control you, but what about within therapy? Traditional therapeutic paradigms attempt to "understand" by fitting the client into current models - social and therapeutic. These labels confine the client within "norms", emphasising the aspects of self which fit into the norms and minimising or ignoring those aspects of self which do not fit into the label.

These labels allow the therapist to treat the client as a symptom, a condition or something else that can be "easily" understood, controlled or manipulated. These labels minimise the experiences and individuality of the person seeking help.

Loss of Personal Control

When the person defers to the labels of another, she or he gives up power - power to define self and power to create self. While these labels can provide temporary relief from individual responsibility and choice - in effect deferring an existential crisis - they limit the options of the person seeking to overcome problems and evolve.

Keeping Power With The Client

How can this power be minimised within the therapeutic relationship? Attempt to understand the experience of the client, rather than trying to fit it into a predetermined paradigm. Realise that the client is the expert in his or her own life (a central tenet of Narrative Therapy). Learn to sit with the ambiguity of the lives of others, without forcing experience into narrow preconceptions.

For many, this loss of control is unsettling and means recreating their relationships with others. The benefits - both within the therapeutic relationship and within wider social interactions - are well worth the initial discomfort.

About Death Doulas

Death Doulas - also referred to as End of Life Doulas - provide emotional and other support to the dying and their families. Support can be psychological (e.g. counselling), physical (aiding with exercise), clerical (helping with completing documents, including advanced directives), documentary (recording messages, including final messages for the dying), ceremonial (e.g. helping plan and/or deliver funerals) and other assistance which is not medical in nature. Death doulas are not doctors, they are not nurses and they are not solicitors/lawyers. They are brought in at the request of the dying and/or family and they are there to help the person transition from life.

About Nocturnal Works

The content on this site is provided to give resources and support to those dying, their loved ones and those providing death doula (end of life) support. When we find out that death is near and the initial shock wears off, emotions and questions flood into our minds. Noctural Works exists as place where you can find out about mental health issues and therapy related to death, dying, grief and bereavement - as well as more practical support, such as planning for death and supporting others on their journey.

The resources on this site are provided by Death Doula Ltd, a company in Aotearoa New Zealand which provides end of life doula support online, in Wellington, Blenheim and Picton (New Zealand). These resources are not legal or medical in nature, so do no rely upon them, but seek legal and medical advice, as required. If you are interested in counselling resources not focusing on death and dying, you can visit our other site, Therapy Aroha.