The Power in Helping

“…at the beginning, every helping relationship is a state of imbalance. The client is one down and therefore vulnerable; the helper is one up and therefore powerful” (p. 35)

Edgar Schein in Helping (2011, p. 35)

I wonder if one of the greatest privileges and opportunities we may have as a human being is to be either the recipient, or giver of, ‘help’.

Being the recipient of help may be as simple as someone picking up something that we’ve dropped on the ground, through to being supported and ‘met’ after the loss of a loved one or during a relationship break up.

The giving of help on the other hand may be to work side by side with someone on a task, through to coaching a work colleague or friend through a challenging situation.

Of course, there are many, many more examples of how help is given or received.

It would seem then that helping would always be a good thing right….. or is it? Could helping someone be a bad thing? Or, are these even the right questions to be considering when contemplating the topic of ‘help’?

As I sit here tonight, thinking and reflecting on the theme of helping, I realise, like most things in life, that there is more to helping than an approach that might consider it as either good or bad. Perhaps, like so many other facets of life, we need to better understand the paradoxical nature of helping? When we consider things from this perspective, we open up a whole new thinking of how helping others may impact on relationships. This may not be obvious if our thinking is limited to the binary method of good and bad.

For example, I wonder if we consider the significant power that can be shifted when a helping relationship is established?

There can be great power in helping others, however, do we also understand, and are we cognisant of how this power may work? Further, do we reflect on how the power in helping may impact on our relationships if it is not considered and respected?

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