Sometimes, help and support are taken away when we have made some progress, potentially leaving us feeling abandoned. Thinking through and talking about these types of dynamics in helping relationships can help us to establish new and more empowering relationships.
It’s not surprising that we can fall into some of the helping behaviours that we have experienced ourselves. But by remembering the role of mutuality and by redefining help as shared learning, we can put the focus back on being with a person, rather than doing for them.
As we build mutuality in a peer relationship we can explore what our respective experiences have been in relation to accessing help and support. This conversation can help in identifying patterns and ways of being in helping relationships. These patterns often involve what we call power dynamics.
We all need power to make decisions, obtain necessary resources and in some cases to convince others. It’s how we use this power in relationships that can potentially cause problems.
The way we use our power is dependent on how we’ve learned to influence or control things in our own lives, so it’s not surprising that people can get caught up in power struggles. Employed peer supporters should be particularly aware of these power dynamics as they will be more pronounced where one person in a peer relationship is paid.