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Egans Skilled Helper Model : An overview Egan qualifies the model as a pragmatic approach to a range of typical problems found

in Western societies, with the insinuation that it allows for cultural diversity. Ostensibly a problem management model, it is based on a three stage frame suggestive of sequences of exploration followed by understanding and, ultimately, action. It is important to note that, the Skilled Helper Model is the product of a number of evolutionary re-workings. Between 1975 and 2001 Egan has made a series of updates as outlined in the editions of The Skilled Helper, first published in 1975. The basic three stage framework, drawn as a compartment of exploration, followed by a compartment of understanding and leading to a compartment of action, is designed to facilitate a helping function. Egans intention is to utilise both the person-centred ideas originating in the work of Rogers and Carkhuff and the cognitive-behavioural ideas implicit in the works of Bandura, Beck, Ellis, Seligman and Strong. EXPLORATION ------------ UNDERSTANDING ----------- ACTION The second edition of Egans work describes a problem-management model or a framework for helping. As Rogers ideas have been incorporated and developed for use in fields of education, so Egans work has been taken up by organisations (for use in problem solving training in public and private corporations). By the mid-1980s, Egans intention is to build-in opportunity development, as a facet of the helping model. Critical arguments, that the model was in danger of being used in a rigid compartmentalised way, are addressed in the explanation of the model as a non-linear process, which has at its core an on-going evaluative facility. Evaluation, it is pointed out, is central to all stages within the process. The Three Stages of Egans Skilled Helper Model Stage 1 (present) Whats going on ? Stage 2 (preferred) What do I need or want instead of what I have? A. Help clients use their imaginations to spell out possibilities for a better future. B. Help clients choose realistic and challenging goals. Stage 3 (action) How do I get what I need or want? A. Help clients see the many different ways they can achieve their goals. B. Help clients choose best-fit strategies.

A. Helping clients tell


their stories.

B. Helping clients break


through blind spots. C. Helping clients choose the right problems or opportunities to work on.

C. Help clients find


incentives that will help them commit to their change agenda.

C. Help clients craft an


action plan.

Egan recognises the important therapeutic applications of creative thinking and uses creativity (in Stage 2) in the context of the clients ability to look toward possibilities for a better future or preferred scenarios. Obviously, this step presupposes the clients ability to identify the current scenario (a Stage 1 task) and to be unencumbered by susceptibility to blind spots (unawareness of key issues).

By the 1990s Egans fourth edition contains a clear option of incorporating challenging into earlier steps in the process. He clearly identifies the tendency of clients to respond to challenge in positive ways, which lead to an increased ability to take responsibility for change. He emphasises this by stressing the importance of both client and counsellor actions in working throughout the process as a part of the third stage. It is this form of action that is most valued by the client and is seen as relevant to the helping process and its outcome. By the mid 1990s Egans attention is focused on the interpretation of eclectic and integrative models. By using the term systematic eclecticism, Egan posits that the intention is to draw on a variety of theories of helping and counselling. What is expressed as the shadow side of helping is considered alongside the process of helping. Between 1990 and 2001 Egan has introduced four editions of the skilled helper, each with its subtle changes in text, which build upon the notion of flexibility and efficacy of the process of change. Assumptions Basic assumptions include the view that the client needs to be empowered to act, and becomes empowered by being an active participant jointly, with the helper, within the utility of the model. The client shares in the process through the skills used in implementing stages of the model and in the relationship contained within the model. In any helping situation, the helper is viewed as effective when working with the aid of a framework and using relevant skills. A helping process is seen as having central goals concerned with, firstly, problemmanagement and use of opportunity, and secondly, client autonomy through self-sufficiency. The model is thus, in outward appearance, rational, linear and having systematic application. The description of stages is suggestive of the clear presentation of a systematic process. Additionally, the model is expanded in its working to show the in-built flexibility of the steps within stages, which appear, in this light, to be cross-transferable steps. There is room for the client to tentatively explore, to return, retrace steps, re-evaluate and re-enter the process at any appropriate stage, without feeling that s/he has taken one step forward followed by three steps in reverse. Flexibility The model is viewed as an orientating device designed to aid the helper to see how to assist the client as s/he moves through the process. The model exists for the helpers convenience in checking directional bearings and should provide orientation on both where the client is and what the helper might do to add value, deal with different layers, or to provide channels for problem management and opportunities for development. The helping model is flexible to the needs of clients, whose stories are likely to be disclosed in different ways. Stories may start in a meandering way, or may appear to be descriptive minor problems but may overlie more urgent or critical matters. It could be impossible to predict movement through stages, or to move through the outlined stages in an ordered and systematic way, and Egan emphasises the flexibility that allows the client space to retrace steps at any stage of the process.