Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Art of Helping. Step 10,11 and 12

Step 10: To help is not to understand what the other understands

Helping involves having to wait and see things develop, and not rush to places where the person in need of help, is not. Even though the social worker or health care worker means to know what is best, this knowledge will not serve the other person if this person is of another understanding. The helper must therefore put up with, at least for the time being, to be humble enough to ask the person in need to be the teacher and tell the person giving help, what she/he understands. This can be illustrated by the American Sociologist William I. Thomas who, together with Dorothy Thomas, formulated in 1928 a theory within sociology called the Thomas theorem, in his book called The Child in America, stating that. "If men define situations as real, then they are real in their consequences" (p.572). This is a powerful sentence, - meaning that the way a situation is understood, causes action. The way people act depends largely on how they percieve and interpret the situation. Even though the interpretation is not objectively correct, this seems not to be important for helping others and guiding their behaviour. This emphasizes the importance of listening to the person in need of help, listening to interpretations of the situation, and starting there.

Step 11: Moving a person from one place to another

The secret in the art of helping has to do with being able to do it. This underlines the dynamical part of helping another person. Theoretical knowledge is important, but not alone. The practical wisdom involved in the helping process, is the dynamical part in moving someone from one place to another. This requires placing oneself togehter with the person one wishes to move. This is probably the most profound action one can take. The building of a relation between the helper and the one in need, must be based on confidence, trust, and faith, and above all recognition. Recognition is so important because it has to do with listening, understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and confirmation. Helping another person is in many ways like being a teacher who is always in the need for learning more from his/her students, or parents that are being brought up together with their children. Parents learn from their children throughout their lifetime.

Step 12: A daring adventure

It is not certain that one is able to move a person from one place to another. The only thing a person can do is help someone to take a choice. What the person in need of help chooses to do, is not something that lies in the power of the helper. Helping the other person become attentive and conscious of ones situation is probably the most we can hope for to do. The helper can make clear which alternatives one might have to choose from, but it would be wrong to force someone to realize these alternatives. Making choices for others is not a daring adventure, it is just an easy way out of a difficult situation, and that would be wrong. A daring adventure is being patient, being where the other person is, recognizing the other person's dignity, and letting the other person choose the movement that is necessary to get from one place to another.

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