Intentional Helping: A Philosophy for Proficient Caring Relationships

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9780130858450: Intentional Helping: A Philosophy for Proficient Caring Relationships

This book was designed to help readers create a professional perspective of integrating care with knowledge and skill. It also advocates establishing healthy and helpful relationships for the benefit of people who seek counseling assistance. Built on the rich tradition of caring advocated by many leaders in the field, this book distinguishes itself by recognizing the importance of intentionality in caring. The book guides readers through a brief presentation that assists them in their development as intentional helpers. Chapters include: The Heart of Helping; Intentionality and Caring; Anatomy of Intentional Caring; Creating Caring Messages; Doing for Oneself What You Expect of Others; and Beyond the Helping Relationship. For counselors, social workers, and professional helpers.

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About the Author:

John J. (Jack) Schmidt is a professor and chair of the Counselor and Adult Education Department at East Carolina University (ECU). Named Distinguished Professor for the ECU School of Education in 1999, he has been a teacher, counselor, school system director of counseling services, state coordinator of school counseling services, and university professor for more than 30 years. Dr. Schmidt is an active writer, having published more than 50 professional articles, chapters, technical manuals, and books, including A Survival Guide for the Elementary/Middle School Counselor, Counseling in Schools (4th ed.), Living Intentionally and Making Life Happen, and Invitational Counseling, with William W. Purkey. A recipient of many professional honors and awards, Dr. Schmidt has been active in the counseling profession, holding many state positions, including president of the North Carolina Counseling Association, and serving on the editorial boards of professional journals. He also served several terms on the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors in North Carolina.

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Professional helping in the form of counseling, therapy, nursing, social work, and allied fields has moved beyond artful practice into the realm of science and skill. Research and literature now focus on specific skills, short-term therapy, and outcome-based research, thus furthering the development and efficacy of professional helping. At the same time, however, this emphasis on the technology of helping might persuade professionals to ignore the important role of humanistic beliefs and core conditions in the development of successful helping relationships.

Intentional Helping: A Philosophy for Proficient Caring Relationships is a brief treatise about the purposeful integration of caring with appropriate knowledge and skill. It continues the tradition of Carl Rogers (A Way of Being, 1980), Milton Mayeroff (On Caring, 1971), Rollo May (Love and Will, 1969), Eric Fromm (The Art of Loving, 1963), William Purkey (Invitational Counseling, 1996), and other writers who have promoted the act of caring as requisite to establishing healthy and helpful relationships. As such, this book is a philosophy that can guide counselors, social workers, and other helpers as they use their knowledge and skill for the utmost benefit of people who seek their assistance.

Primarily written for counselors, clinical social workers, therapists, health care providers, and other professional helpers; this book may also be valuable to laypersons who volunteer their time and expertise in helping others. It is intended for students who are planning to enter the helping professions as well as for practitioners who want to reflect on the helping relationships they establish every day with students, clients, and patients. Intentional Helping is not a comprehensive text on helping skills or theoretical approaches. Rather, it is a supplementary guide to the theories, skills, and knowledge that proficient helpers bring to every helping relationship. For this reason, the book is a brief presentation intended as a reflective discourse. Readers who want a more in-depth study about particular aspects of helping are encouraged to explore the references cited throughout the book.

Intentional Helping: A Philosophy for Proficient Caring Relationships consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the concept of caring, contending that it is an essential condition for helping. Three elements of intentional caring are explored: (1) the importance of knowing what it means to care, (2) knowing oneself; and (3) understanding people who seek assistance.

Chapter 2 introduces the construct of intentionality and illustrates the interaction between a helper's intentions and degree of caring. This chapter highlights the importance of direction and purpose in helping relationships and advocates a balance of care so that both parties within a relationship receive adequate attention while maintaining a broader interest in the welfare of the group, institution, or society. The intentionality of the helper also encompasses the ability to encourage those seeking help, provide appropriate support, and persevere with difficult clients. Sometimes people who seek professional counseling staunchly protect their self-beliefs, although such beliefs risk failure or more tragic outcomes. At these times, an intentional helper's caring takes the form of perseverance and gentle persistence.

Chapter 3 examines the prerequisites and structure of caring. First, it considers an understanding of human perception and how such understanding provides a foundation for caring. Second, it presents the fundamental belief that caring professionals use their knowledge and skill only for beneficial purposes. They understand that therapeutic knowledge and skill include an inherent responsibility to practice ethically—that is, always in the best interest of the individual and with a high respect for the welfare of the total group. Finally, the chapter revisits some of the essential ingredients of caring, including trust, flexibility, and positive regard.

Chapter 4 presents a paradigm for creating beneficial messages within an intentionally caring relationship. Included are the desire to help; the need to be prepared; the conditions for creating, sending, or not sending helpful messages; the value of knowing how to resolve differences; and the importance of measuring the progress of any helping relationship. This chapter ends with practical ideas and strategies to facilitate caring in difficult situations.

Chapter 5 asks helpers to self-reflect by examining how they care for themselves. In addition, this chapter explores how important it is for helpers to tend to their relationships with clients. The belief put forth here is that the counselor, nurse, therapist, or other helper has primary responsibility for ensuring the welfare and safety of those who seek their help. At the same time, helpers must maintain their own emotional, physical, and mental health and accurately reflect on how they contribute to or detract from others' quality of life.

Chapter 6 continues the self-examination begun in Chapter 5 by asking helpers to move beyond individual helping relationships and assess how their work contributes to the well-being of society. How do they seek to belong in positive ways to establish community with others? How do they demonstrate love to the people who are most important in their lives? The ultimate test of caring helpers is how they treat those closest to them.

Throughout each chapter, I offer vignettes called "Reflections" for you to consider when examining your development as an intentional helper. These musings can be used individually to explore your self-understanding or be discussed in seminars and other classes for students entering the helping professions.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many people have supported and assisted with the development, research, and writing of this book. I am forever grateful to my mentor, friend, and colleague William Purkey for including me in the development of invitational counseling and the numerous writing projects we have published. His instruction and guidance have been extremely valuable in my development as a professional and a person, and I sincerely appreciate the foreword that he wrote for this book.

Thanks also go to Kevin Davis, my editor, who invited me to publish this book even before I put a word on paper. His thoughtful reactions and careful guidance throughout the project were very helpful. I am also indebted to Christina Kalisch, associate editor, whose correspondence and management of the review process were invaluable.

Much of tile research for this book was accomplished with the help of Gene Saunders, who was my graduate assistant during the early stage of the project. I am grateful for his excellent work.

The final version of this book is the product, in part, of many excellent reviews received during the writing phase. I thank the following reviewers for their helpful comments and valuable suggestions: Willis E. Bartlett, University of Notre Dame; Linda L. Black, Northern Illinois University; Tom Brian, University of Tulsa; Samuel T. Gladding, Wake Forest University; Bette Katsekas, University of Southern Maine; Merle Keitel, Fordham University; Becky J. Liddle, Auburn University; and Paul W Power, University of Maryland.

I also want to give special thanks to Marilyn Sheerer, the dean of the School of Education at East Carolina University, and to many colleagues whose support of my work encouraged me to write this book. Lastly, I give my love and appreciation to Pat, my wife, best friend, and partner, without whose patience and support the completion of this and all my publications would not have been possible.

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