Frequently Asked Questions

Changes People Don't Want to Make
What's Wrong With Control?

I maintain that Health Patterning is about helping people make the changes they want to make.  Yet, people ask me, “What about helping people make the changes they do not want to make?”  I remember one time talking with a psychologist who asked me the purpose of Health Patterning.  When I told her that Health Patterning is teaching people how to make the changes they want to make, she said to me, “My work is teaching people how to make the changes they do not want to make.”  Her point is well taken, however, my position is that if people truly don’t want to make changes, then Health Patterning is not the way to go, since my philosophy is that people have free will and choice and power-as-freedom, the basis of Health Patterning, is all about that.  On the other hand, Health Patterning is quite useful when people are making difficult choices prompted by difficult circumstances that they freely decide requires changes that are tough to commit to, but they, nevertheless, feel are necessary to their well-being or health.  And we grow more, quite often, when we struggle with undesirable life situations that confront us in our daily lives.

No, I do not agree.  Knowledge is NOT power.  Knowledge is knowledge.  It is one of many forms of power from the view of the Barrett Power Theory.  In this view, just like money, knowledge, as a form of power, can be used for purposes of freedom or control.  Similarly, some people say to me, power is awareness or power is “this” or power is “that.”  Again, awareness is awareness and “this is this” and “that is that.”  Power, I say, is the capacity to participate knowingly in change, nothing more and nothing less.  While we are continuously participating in change, it may not be in a knowing manner.  When it is, that is what I call power.

The short answer is “no.”  Although imagery is certainly powerful, when we speak of “power-imagery,” we mean a specific and unique method that puts together the Barrett Power Theory with the Epstein Mental Imagery Model in a unitary fashion, meaning it is different from the sum of the parts.  Essentially, the program helps people to become more powerful through using guided imagery and other mentally based exercises.  Click here to learn more about the Power-Imagery Process on this site or go to for the 3-step 21 day online program.

This question comes up frequently.  I avoid using the term empowerment since there is a great deal of literature on empowerment and, in general, it reflects a causal worldview, so I would classify it as reflecting the philosophy of power-as-control.  Usually society is considered to blame for a lack of empowerment or powerlessness. The prefix “em” means to “put into” and often empowerment means someone or something shares or cultivates feelings of power in people who are considered to have little power, thus empowering them.  However, there are authors, such as Norma Schearer, RN; PhD, who write about empowerment from an acausal point-of-view.  The Barrett theory says everyone has power; no one can give it to them, and no one can take it away.  What differs is how we choose to use it.

No, power-as-freedom is not the same as personal power, although at first it might seem like just a difference in semantics, but in truth, it is not.  From my perspective, there is a difference as when that term is used, it is used to mean different things by different people.  It’s a limiting term in the sense that it differentiates power into a type called personal.  For me there are only two types, power-as-control and power-as-freedom and both types manifest in innumerable forms.  So, personal power is a form of power that can either be used in the interests of control or freedom.  Another difference is that power, again from my perspective, applies not just to individuals, but also to groups of any size, and has the same four dimensions (awareness, choices, freedom to act intentionally, and involvement in creating change) and characteristics whether we are talking about a person or a group.  Another difference, of course, is that no other theory of power derives from Martha E. Rogers’ framework.  This refers to the power-as-freedom type of power reflecting a non-material, non-deterministic, acausal worldview. I have come to consider it a spiritual worldview that is ancient and broad-based and yet, Rogers’ science of unitary human beings is unique in perspective.  In contrast what I named power-as-control is the materialistic, deterministic, cause and effect type of power.  At some point I had an epiphany that power is power and all theories and descriptions of power can be categorized as power-as-control or power-as-freedom.  This power-as-control and power-as-freedom categorization is not to say the other perspectives on power are the same as the Barrett theory of power.  In examining these other ideas about power, there are sometimes similarities, yet it seems there is invariably something that is different or in conflict with the Barrett theory.

You’re at the right place at the right time if you want to do just that.  If you want more help in applying the information on this site, click here for Services.  When my-book, (the working title is “The Power-as-Freedom Book”), comes out, there will be many more avenues for finding answers to questions regarding using power-as-freedom to understand and resolve difficulties in day-to-day living.  Click here for the Health Conditions link that defines some of the situations that bring people to Health Patterning, an alternative psychotherapy.  Also check out the modalities used during the therapy process by clicking here for the Power Prescriptions link.

That’s the question the 40 year old man sitting with me in my office asked. 

John: “I like to be in control,”

Elizabeth: “What does control mean to you?”

John: “Let me think about that a moment.  Well, it means I am in charge of myself and I don’t allow anyone else to take charge of me.  At the same time I don’t try to run anyone else’s life either.”

Elizabeth: “What I think you are describing is power.  Would you say that when you feel you are in control, you are participating with full awareness to bring about some sort of change?”

John: “Exactly.”

Elizabeth: “Well, you’re describing the way I understand power. We’ll talk more about that later.  But tell me; what is the difference between control and freedom, in your view?”

John: “To me, they are exactly the same.”

At that point, I offered him a new definition of power and described the two types:  power-as-freedom and power-as-control.  The use of the term “control” to mean “power” or “freedom” is a common confusion in our culture, since the dominant philosophy underlining power in the Western world is oriented toward control.  John was actually talking about power-as-freedom.  You might be thinking, “What difference does it make?  Isn’t it just a matter of semantics?”  No, it isn’t semantics, rather clarification allows us to make choices in ways that enhance our freedom and involve ourselves in going after what we want, while at the same time not attaching to what happens as a result of our actions.  Also, at the same time we don’t interfere with any one else’s freedom when the worldview we live by is oriented toward freedom not control.  That is a critical difference between power-as-freedom and power-as-control.

The person who said, “What’s wrong with control?” discovered, as we discussed the issues that brought him into Health Patterning therapy, that he often switched back and forth between using power-as-control and power-as-freedom, sometimes being competitive and manipulative and other terms being cooperative and straight-forward.  He wanted to learn to make aware choices and to act freely on his intentions in ways that worked for him and didn’t hurt anyone else.  So the bottom line is that he discovered his efforts to “be in control” were really efforts to be free and he learned new ways aimed in that direction.  He wanted to use his will deliberatively and to follow through on his choices by taking the necessary actions.