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PORTRAIT OF A HELPER Written by Administrator   
Created On: DATE_FORMAT_LC5
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PORTRAIT OF A HELPER
 

Ideally, helpers are first of all committed to their own growth - physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual - for they realize that helping often involves modeling the patterns of behavior their clients hope to achieve. They are potent human beings - that is, people with both the resources and the will to act. Since action needs direction, they work at formulating and reformulating the values that enable them to provide that direction.

 

They show respect for their bodies through proper exercise and diet. They make their bodies work for them rather than against them. They realize that helping is hard work and that if they are to give themselves effectively to this work they need a high level of energy. Physical fitness, to their minds, is a source of energy they need.

 

Helpers have adequate basic intelligence, are aware of their own intellectual possibilities, and have respect for the world of ideas. Since ideas are important to them, they read and discuss what they read with others. They often read actively and hungrily, for they are eager to expand their view of the world. They respect good literature, for it is rich in human experience, and they respect the world of myth and metaphor, for they sense that there are dimensions of human life that can be reached only through symbol, myth, allegory, and metaphor. They respect good theory and good research for the ways in which they can nourish enlightened practice. They are practical people, “translators” who make what they read work for them. They can turn good theory and good research into practical programs that enable them to help others more effectively, and they have the action-research skills to evaluate those programs.

 

Even more important, they have good common sense and good social intelligence. they are at home in the social-emotional world both their own and that of others. They have developed an extensive repertory of social-emotional skills that enable them to respond spontaneously and effectively to wide range of human needs. For instance, they are not afraid of deep human emotions their own or others. They work at making such skills second nature to them.

 

Good helpers know that helping is a great deal of work, but they also know that working smart is just as important as working hard; that is, they are more interested in accomplishments than behavior. They attend to their clients both physically and psychologically. They know nonverbal messages they send their clients and can read those sent to them. They listen intently to clients, but now that the fruits of listening are gathered through effective responding. They see helping as a goal-oriented, accomplishment-oriented dialogue. And so they respond frequently to clients, for they are working hard at understanding them. They respond within their clients’ frames of reference, for they can see the world through their client’s eyes. But they also listen to their clients in context, realizing that their points of view are sometimes distorted and need to be challenged.

 

They respect their clients and express that respect by being available to them, working with them, not judging them, trusting the constructive forces found in them, and ultimately by placing the expectation on them to do whatever is necessary to handle their problems in living more effectively. They genuinely care for those who have come to help. They are non-defensive, spontaneous, and always willing to say what they think and feel, provided it is in the best interests of their clients. Good helpers are concrete in their expressions, dealing with actual feelings and actual behaviors rather than vague formulations, obscure psychodynamics, or generalities. Their speech, while caring and human, is also lean and to the point.

 

Skilled helpers are integrators. They help clients explore the world of experience, feeling, and behavior. As clients produce data about themselves, helpers assist them to integrate that data in a way that helps clients understand themselves and their behavior. They also realize that insight and understanding are not to be pursued or prized for themselves but rather to the extent that they help clients set problem-managing goals and move toward constructive behavioral change. Counsellors in this process are not afraid to share themselves and their own experiences if they see that it will advance the helping process. They are not afraid to challenge clients - with care - and to help clients place demands on themselves, provided that these demands arise from the experience of the client and not from the needs of the helper. They are not afraid to deal openly with own relationships with their clients to the degree that it helps clients understand their own behavior and interpersonal style and helps them move toward goals and action. But counsellors do all these things with caution and respect, remembering that helping is for the client.

 

Effective helpers are people of imagination. They try to be imaginative in their approach to helping, while avoiding fads. They realize that clients are often mired down  in their problem situations because they are no longer in touch with their own imaginal resources. And so they do whatever they can to help clients reawaken their imagination. They stimulate their clients to envision futures that are better and more creative - without being Pollyanna-ish. And they do this while remaining aware of the personal and environmental constraints of individual clients.

 

Action is important to good helpers. Since they are agents in their own lives - that is, people who seize life rather than submit to it - they are capable of helping their clients set goals and elaborate action programs that lead to constructive behavioral change. They know that self understanding is not enough and that the helping process is not complete until clients act on their understandings. Skilled helpers are pragmatists; they will draw on all possible helping resources to enable clients to achieve their goals. Indeed, they realize that the process of helping is developmental - that is, that the entire process is leading the constructive management of client’s problems in living. Because of their wide repertory of response, skilled helpers can approach a problem from many different vantage points and help clients see alternatives. They are not bound to any single course of action. They may use a variety of techniques in the counseling process, but are the masters of the techniques they use. They follow a comprehensive helping model, but are not rigid in its applications. The model is not central; clients are. The model is seen as an instrument for helping clients live more effectively.

 

Good counsellors are at home with people, both one-to-one and in groups. They are not afraid to enter the world of others and to confront the distress of that world. However, the intimacy of the counseling process is not substitutive for them; they are not people who need people with problems to help. Although they do not help others in order to satisfy their own needs, they know that “when they make it possible for others to choose life they increase their own possibilities of continuing to choose life.” they can handle crises; they can mobilize their own energies and help others mobilize their own in order to act forcefully and decisively. They realize that it is a privilege to be allowed to enter life of another person, and they respect that privilege.

 

Skilled helpers have their own human problems, from which they do not retreat. They explore their behavior and know who they are. They know what it means to be helped and have a deep respect for the helping process and its power - for better or worse. Even though they are living effectively, they also know they are in process, that each stage of life has its own developmental tasks and crises.

 

This, then, is one version of ideal. It goes without saying that we do not live in an ideal  world. The best of helpers can fall short of the ideal in different ways at different times.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2012 15:12
 

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