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.

Setting the Stage for Helping

Setting the stage for helping

Learning Objectives

  • Understand key components of helping contracts
  • Describe aspects of initial assessment that will help identify helping goals and strategies
  • Describe stages of change and the implication of these ideas for helping relationships
  • Explain positioning theory and its implications on helping relationships


It seems redundant to state that helpees enter into helping relationships when things are not going well in their lives. But, I say this again to remind us that when people seek our help, they often are not bringing their “best self” into the helping relationship. Remember the feelings of vulnerability, frustration, confusion, or perhaps, hopelessness that you have felt when you were struggling with a problem that seemed insurmountable. Think about your own ambivalence at seeking ...

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