This text is intended as a primary text for courses on helping skills. These courses are offered at the undergraduate level in departments of human services, social work, and psychology and focus on teaching students helping skills (as opposed to clinical skills). The book will focus on helping students understand the nature of helping relationships and the specific skills involved in initiating and maintaining a helping relationship. It is a brief, practice and skills based book for an undergraduate non-clinical audience. Part I will cover the following topics: self Awareness, the helping process, and ethics in helping. The second part will focus on skills such as listening and hearing, empathy, reflecting, paraphrasing, questioning, clarifying, exploring, offering feedback, encouragement and psycho-education. The last two chapters will focus on individuals in crisis, and helping in groups – two areas often encountered by helping professionals. The book is enhaced by brief video clips that demonstrate key skills.

Self-Awareness, Cultural Awareness, and Helper Competence

Self-awareness, cultural awareness, and helper competence

Learning Objectives

  • Describe how helpers’ personal experiences, emotional reactions, assumptions, beliefs, and values affect their work as helpers
  • Describe how social location affects the lived experiences of individuals and why it is important for helpers to be aware of their own social location
  • Describe how social position and cultural capital related to social location affect helping relationships


In this chapter, we will continue to focus on the ways in which the beliefs, experiences, and behaviors of helpers can have a profound impact on their helping relationships. The overarching theme here is the importance of helper self-awareness when working with others. In this chapter, we will focus on these important components of self-awareness: first, being aware of and ...

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