Learning the Art of Helping : Building Blocks and Techniques

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-01-01
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
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For counseling techniques and for basic skills courses in counseling, social work, and psychology departments. Assuming no prior knowledge of counseling techniques, this highly interactive text takes students, step-by-step through the acquisition of the skills and techniques for effectively helping their future clients. The author's straightforward writing style, clearly-stated instructions, and numerous practice exercises prepare students to use assessment information, plan treatment, and implement helping strategies. Coverage encompasses the full complement of commonly used techniques, from basic "building block" skills to more advanced therapeutic skills.

Table of Contents

Helping as a Personal Journey
The Nuts and Bolts of Helping
The Therapeutic Relationship
Helping Someone Who is Different
Invitational Skills
Reflecting Skills: Paraphrasing
Reflecting Skills: Reflecting Feelings
Reflecting Skills: Reflecting Meaning and Summarizing
Challenging Skills
Assessment and the Initial Interview
Goal-Setting Skills
Solution Skills
Outcome Evaluation and Termination Skills
Curative Factors and Advanced Skills
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


An overarching metaphor is used in this book: that learning the art of helping is a journey with a beginning but no real end point. Those who embark on this quest find it to be a lifelong process of discovery rather than a destination. There is always more to learn about human behavior and the process of change. Let us take the metaphor one step further. Let us suppose that two people are traveling to a foreign country to learn more about it. One is an engineer and the other is a historian. As they travel together, the engineer will notice and respond to the bridges and buildings, while the historian looks for monuments and clues to the great events of the past. If you were the tour guide for these two people, you would want to know something about each person's interests to accommodate them on the trip. Learning words and phrases that incorporate engineering feats or historical situations might increase interest and make each learner feel that his or her field is important. Similarly, in your journey to become a helper, you bring along your life experience, family history, and cultural background, as well as your biases and prejudices, likes and dislikes. At every stage, you will test your new learning against what you already know. You will accept most readily those things that fit within your present way of looking at the world. Not every learning environment can achieve this kind of tailor-made curriculum. Your teachers will probably not have the time to really think about the background you bring to this new experience. But you can be responsible for your own learning and integrate new thoughts with what you already know by the process of reflection. In every chapter, there are opportunities to stop and reflect and to engage in additional learning activities. The decision to present the material in this way is based on the philosophy that, as an individual, you carry with you a set of assumptions about the world that affects what you learn and how you assimilate new learning. New material becomes connected to the storehouse of information you have already collected and the skills you presently possess. Reflecting on new material helps you integrate it with what you already know, but it also lays bare your prejudices and untested assumptions. For this reason, the process of reflection is not as benign as it may first appear. If you really become involved in reflecting and make it a habit, you will have made a giant step on your journey. You will have made a commitment to-understanding yourself as well as those you are trying to help. Reflection means thinking about new learning through writing, contemplation, or discussion with others. It is particularly important to reflect on issues that cause you emotional distress, that clash with what you already know, and that you have trouble grasping. Learning to reflect is a skill that will serve you well in difficult situations on the journey to become a professional helper. Helping is filled with difficult diagnostic, ethical, and practical problems. By incorporating a reflective process early in your journey, you will avoid many of the pitfalls caused by making snap judgments. There are several effective methods for reflecting. They include discussing your thoughts with a small group, bouncing your ideas off another person, or e-mailing your views to fellow learners and teachers. One of the best ways to learn to reflect is through the use of a journal. A journal is not just a collection of emotional reactions. It should include your feelings about the material, but it should also contain a serious consideration of alternative viewpoints or competing voices. In other words, use reflection when you find yourself at a crossroads between two points of view. Learn to state your current thinking on a particular topic and then write down an alternative-viewpoint as well. For example, you may have learned that advice giving is a very helpful technique in deal

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