Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Art of Helping. Step 1 and 2

Step 1: Leading a person to a specific place

Giving help to others involves leadership, the act of healing others through the process of change. What kind of change? Kierkegaard argues that it is a change in postion; one is lead from one place to another. This involves two postions, both that of the helper ande the one seeking help. First of all, one must know where one is. This is a place where one is before help is given or recieved. If one does not know where one is, it is impossible to know where one is going. This is something everyone using a map and compass has experienced. The result will always be wrong if one does not start where one is. The finish line is where one is traveling to, and is not to any arbitrary place. Kierkegaard argues that it is a specific place. This suggests that helping others must have some specific thoughts about what one wishes to achieve. Moving from one place to another is a genuine form for change.

Step 2: Finding the other and beginning there

There are two messages here. First one must find the other. This seems simple, but it is not given that one knows where the other person is. Standing face to face with anothoer person does not mean that you have found the person. Finding another person is the opposite of the fact that the other person has found me. A person who seeks help at the Social Welfare Office has found the Social Welfare Office. This does not mean that the Social Welfare Office has found the one seeking help yet, let alone even seen the person seeking help.I have in my PhD thesis studied how the Incest Center in Vestfold, Norway work in order to be able to find those seeking help for sexual abuse. The elements that are here crucial in order to find the other are in my opinion paradigmatic also for other helping institutions. These elements are: acknowledgement; recognition; acceptance; approval; appreciation; and respect. Recognition is especially important in this step towards coming in a postion so as to help the other. To recognize the other involves also recognizing ones self; ones view of humanity and society; limitations; background; goals; and so forth. The German socialphilosopher Axel Honneth argues in The Struggle for Recognition (1996) that recognition must always be mutual. When this recognition of one self and the other is authentic, a beginning can begin. Claim Potok writes in his book In the Beginning (1975) that all beginnings are difficult, especially those we create ourselves. A beginning can be so hard and complex that one might wonder how we sometimes survive a new beginning.    

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