Clarifies how to distinguish between healthy therapeutic relationships and ones which have become abusive.
Carrie Doehring propose an approach to pastoral counseling that focuses on taking care of ourselves and those we minister to by monitoring power dynamics and relational boundaries in our relationships. When we monitor the power struggles within us, between us, in our communities and cultures, and the ways in which we are pulled to disengagement and merger, we will be able to prevent abuse and neglect. We will also be more likely to experience empowering, empathic moments in our relationships, and use these to "get our bearings."
Taking care by monitoring the interaction of power dynamics and relational boundaries is a theological task. It is one way of seeing our potential for sin and our capacity for violence. When empowering empathic moments come, we glimpse who God is: both the immanent God whose grace shines through our uniqueness and the uniqueness of our relationships, and the transcendent God who goes far beyond who we are.
Doehring uses case studies from the fiction of John Updike, Sinclair Ross, Toni Morrison, Iris Murdoch, and Margaret Atwood to reflect on power dynamics and relational boundaries in cases of clergy sexual misconduct, racism, and the dilemmas of faith in a post-modern context.