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Developing Helping Skills

Developing Helping Skills by Maurice Howe
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Developing Helping Skills has been part of my life for a long time. It was first published in 1978 by the Swinburne Applied Behavioural Studies Centre. At the time, I was Head of the Department of Psychology at Swinburne Institute of Technology (now Swinburne University of Technology) in Hawthorn,Victoria. I had long held that many of the skills and insights gained in research and practice by behavioural scientists could and should be shared with those in the community who had need of them; particularly those in teaching and helping roles. Professional counsellors are necessary in our society, but the more widely the elements of effective counselling are distributed among teachers, clergy, nurses, personnel officers, police and even lawyers, the better will be the chances of satisfactory life adjustment and useful coping styles among members of the community. My dilemma was that the books available in Australia in the 1970s were seemingly all American, which rendered them less than ideal on two counts: on one hand imported books were extremely expensive and, secondly, they were inevitably tainted by the many Americanisms they contained. Australians liked Americans but were rather put off by having so much dished up to them in American terms. So, the answer was to produce a local publication for use in workshops and training situations, and Developing Helping Skills was the outcome of my efforts to achieve such a publication. In writing the book I drew from my experience in teaching interpersonal skill development and also, from a number of publications. I am particularly indebted to my friend Allen Ivey for the micro skills approach that is central to the book, and to Carl Rogers and Robert Carkhuff for the chief components of helping theory. Gerard Egan, Norman Kagan and Virginia Satir are among the others whose ideas and material I found extremely useful and drew from extensively. Throughout the text I have tried to acknowledge all my sources but it is highly likely that I have missed some. The origins of some of the ideas, and particularly the exercises, have long since faded from memory. So, if I have missed acknowledgement of some material, I apologise. Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery and you can be assured that I have included only exercises that I have found to be effective. While the book will be useful to some who read it on their own, readers will reap greater rewards from its use as a workbook in a training group. My belief is that while people learn a little from what they read or are told, they learn much more quickly and extensively from experience. The greatest benefit will come from using Developing Helping Skills in a practical program consisting largely of interpersonal exercises and assignments designed to provide learning situations or in some way act to accelerate the acquiring of experience. However, experience alone is not enough. Reflection on this experience and understanding in terms of useful concepts and models is also needed. We need to think about what happens in each situation if we are to gain a better understanding of how we are influencing or contributing to the outcome of the interview or interpersonal interaction. Perhaps, too, I should highlight the fact that we may need a means of looking at what we do and how we do it which is to some extent separate or additional to our own subjective impressions. The Developing Helping Skills program relies, in part, on the use of video or audio recordings and the reports of other people who are cast in the role of observer. The importance of stopping the action, looking at what is going on, trying to understand it and trying to improve effectiveness the next time around, cannot be overstressed.
Australian Council for Educational Research; Read online
Title: Developing Helping Skills
Author: Maurice Howe

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