You are on page 1of 7

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 1

Personal Theory of Helping


Leeza Thomas
Azusa Pacific University

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 2

Part I: Theory
I believe that people should be helped when in need because doing so provides for a
unique (and hopefully) mutual learning experience, a unique connectedness, and a it is fulfilling
to what God has called His people to do. When someone takes the time to step outside of
themselves to help another individual in need, they have a unique opportunity to be both a
teacher and a learner. Helping others often requires risk, investment, and sacrifices of time,
energy, and resources. I think that when someone is willing to genuinely and sincerely give of
themselves, it provides for a unique connectedness between everyone involved. I understand that
this may not be possible in all cases, but it would be an ideal outcome for most issues. Finally, I
believe that people should be helped because as a Christ follower, I live by the idea that God has
called me to help appropriately help others in need in the best ways that I can.
Because I view helping as having such a strong potential for being an impactful learning
experience, I believe that this is what makes a person worth helping. As a helper, you can act as a
guide to someone who has sought you out for help. Even for those individuals who do not take
such an active approach in seeking help, I still think guiding someone through a difficult issue or
situation can be a powerful experience, possibly through intentional conversations. I believe that
humans are innately flawed creatures, however, I believe that through guidance, accountability,
and companionship that we can walk alongside others and help guide them in a healthy direction.
I believe that humans are comprised of three parts that need to be maintained: mind, body, and
spirit. I would consider a well person to be someone that can healthily manage and maintain
each of these areas. For some, this is best done with a type of support system and for others, this
is can be done more independently.

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 3

I hold firm to the belief that people can change. I believe this because I have experienced
great changes throughout my life that I would not have been able to experience if I had not had
others to motivate and support me through my process. Change takes place over time and
through a variety of processes unique to each individual, often requiring some type of support
along the way. A number of things could be considered obstacles to change, one being a lack of
motivation. If an individual is not at least a little bit self-motivated to change, then there is not
going to be a great amount of progress. Other obstacles could be lack of family or other support
or different external factors that are beyond the control of the individual. I think that crisis and
conflict play an interesting roll in the process of change. I think that both can help propel change
and move the process at all, at the same time, I can understand how both could also be
considered hindrances to change. I think this is because it is how you respond to the crisis and
conflict that will help determine the outcome of change. I think that community also plays a key
role in influencing change in an individual. A community can provide varied perspectives,
support, and resources, and these can be important factors in positive outcomes for change.
I define helping another person as aiding them in beginning a new process or joining
alongside them after they have already begun their process, through emotional, moral, and even
spiritual support. Most importantly, helping another person includes being a resource and acting
as a guide. Ultimately, as much as someone is going to need the help of another individual, they
need to be able to help themselves as well. Practically, I would say that I am helpful to others by
actively listening to those that seek out my help, and using my critical thinking and problem
solving skills when necessary, to help someone reach their own conclusions and know what to do
next. As an ethical college student affairs professional, my role in helping students is again, to act
as a resource and help guide a student through whatever process he or she may currently be

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 4

working through. In terms of acting as a resource, I mean that before I help someone, I should
have a good general awareness of the issue that I am helping them with. If I do not know prior to
them seeking help, then I should take time to educate myself or refer them to someone who
possesses more knowledge about the topic already. My role of faith and meaning-making in
helping students is the same. In acting as a guide in in terms of faith and meaning-making, I
should be asking a student questions about their intentions and motives as a way to guide a
student through that process.
My ideas of helping students have been strongly informed by the Cognitive Behavioral
Theory. The focus of this theory is to identify the symptom of problems, and then work toward
techniques and strategies that will assist an individual in being able to cope with or handle
situations on their own in the future. In addition, CBT focuses on changing or replacing irrational
thoughts with more rational thoughts and ideas (Reynolds, 2009).
As I reflect on major events that have taken place in my life, I cannot help but think about
the significant people that have been present during these events of change, transition, seeking,
and trauma. I would not have been able to make it through those experiences without the support
and guidance of various family members, mentors, supervisors and teachers/professors.
Understanding the impact that a handful of special people have had on my life, has greatly
motivated me to pursue a helping vocation. I believe that one skill that I possess is the ability
to be an engaged and active listener. Granted, I am unable to do this perfectly all of the time, but
I believe that it is one aspect of helping others that I do well. When helping someone, I want
them to know that, above all else, their voice is being heard and they are being cared for. I also
have the skill of remaining calm and collected when I am listening to someone that is working
through something particularly difficult. I believe that when someone is dealing with a conflict or

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 5

crisis, the best thing to do for them is to show them that you are safe and stable person to be
communicating with. Again, I believe that this is something that I am able to do well. One skill
that I should work on to be a more effective helper is to be more educated on the resources
available to those I am helping. While working here at APU, I have fortunately been able to
direct the students I am working with to the appropriate resources, but I feel that it has happened
more by chance than intentionality. As I find work on other university campuses, I want to be
more intentional about seeking to understand what the university has to offer its students so that I
can be a more effective helper. I find that when helping people, I have a difficult time thinking of
questions that will be helpful in guiding them. I am more skilled at summarizing what they have
said and validating how they may be feeling, but asking questions is something that I find
challenging. Throughout this course and my experience through my assistantship, I have learned
that I enjoy challenging the students that I work with. Once I have been able to build a good
rapport with them and learn who they are and how they operate, I enjoy pushing them toward
their goals and challenging them to do what they can to the best of the ability. As I continue as a
helper in student affairs, I think that what I have learned will have a great impact on my ability to
help students learn about themselves and succeed.
Part II: Application
Shortly after Andrew has entered my office, I would tell him that it was great to see him
in my office, as I hand I have only seen him a few times around campus. I would ask him how
his day has been and what specifically has brought him into my office. After he told me I might
say, summarize what he has said and repeat it back to him, validating his feelings and making
sure that I understand what he is sharing with me. I would be interested to know what Andrew

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 6

enjoys to do for fun when he is not working, in class, or spending time with the young woman he
is newly in a relationship with.
Let us say, for example, that the conversation with Andrew focuses mostly on how he has
not yet found his passion and feels that although he can see a future with this new relationship in
his life, he does not feel that he has much to offer her. I would ask Andrew to identify more
specific feelings, possible asking him to use a feeling word to describe his feelings about these
two issues specifically. I would want him to share as much as he was comfortable with,
continuing to summarize and ask What do you think is causing you to feel this way?, How
long have you been feeling this way?, Have you shared these feelings with those close to
you? My hope is that through this questioning, we would be able to identify the root of the
feelings and work toward changing the negative thoughts and ideas about him not having much
to offer in a relationship. I would also want to know about some of his accomplishments, validate
them, and help him to understand that he is successful and hard-working, assuming this is the
case.
Once Andrew was able to better identify his feelings, I would want to help him talk
through and develop ways that he could cope with the stress that he is experiencing through these
issues. I would ask that he create a list of activities that he can practice when he is feeling
overwhelmed. I might suggest taking a few minutes each day in silence to simply be and reflect,
or maybe to take an opportunity to turn his mind off. I would explain how this exercise can be
refreshing and helpful. I would ask that Andrew and I could meet up again the next week so that
we can discuss how things are going and if there might be others ways that I can be of help to
him.

Running head: THEORY OF HELPING

Thomas 7
References

Reynolds, A.L. (2009). Helping college students: Developing essential support skills for student
affairs practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.