1. a process whereby someone (i.e., the enabler) contributes to continued maladaptive or pathological behavior (e.g., child abuse, substance abuse) in another person. The enabler is typically an intimate partner or good friend who passively permits or unwittingly encourages this behavior in the other person; often, the enabler is aware of the destructiveness of the person’s behavior but feels powerless to prevent it. 2. the process of encouraging or allowing individuals to meet their own needs and achieve desired ends. A therapist attempts to enable clients to believe in themselves, have the confidence to act on their desires, and affirm their ability to achieve. See also empowerment.