On the relational dynamics of caring: a psychotherapeutic approach to emotional and power dimensions of women’s care work
Care is double-edged and paradoxical, inspiring a vast range of strong feelings in both care-givers and care-recipients. This paper draws on ideas about psychotherapeutic relationships to offer a theorisation of the complex emotional and power dynamics and imaginative geographies of care. Examining the humanistic approach developed by Carl Rogers as well as the psychoanalytic tradition, I advance an interpretation of psychotherapeutic practices that foregrounds the fundamental importance of the emotional and power-inflected relationship between practitioners and those with whom they work. I show how different traditions offer conceptualisations of the shape of therapeutic relationships that are highly relevant to consideration of the emotional and power dynamics of giving and receiving care. Against this background I discuss current debates about care, emotions and power, drawing especially on feminist and disability perspectives and arguing that psychotherapeutic approaches offer a powerful lens through which to understand the emotional and power dynamics of caring relationships. I conclude by emphasising how this theorisation helps to illuminate ubiquitous features of women’s care work.