I had so much fun with this one that I decided to divide it into two parts! Let’s unravel some of the old adages we have all ascribed to in one way or another over the course of our professional lives.
Helping Professionals have the answers. They are experts in solving others’ problems.
Helping Professionals develop expertise in their specific fields. They understand various approaches to problem solving. They possess counseling skills and have information about accessing resources and community services. The best helping professionals are the ones who know that the people they provide service to are their own experts and contain their personal answers within. These helping professionals know that their role is to help you discover your truth and solutions.
It’s not about you as a helping professional. It’s about the people you serve.
It is true that your role as a helping professional is to focus on the person who is coming to you for support and service. It is also true that the helping professional is an integral part of this process. Knowing who you are as a person and a professional prepares you to be of the highest service to those who cross your path.
Helping Professionals must have their s&*t together at all times.
Most helping professionals are faced with life challenges and opportunities similar to those experienced by those they serve. Helping professionals face crisis, trauma, and stress in their personal and professional lives. Choosing this vocation does not make you immune to life so there could be times when you feel like you don’t have your s&*t together! The key is to recognize this and develop strategies to support you when you lose it. The growth you experience can ultimately help you become more effective in your role.
Working in the helping professions allows you to heal yourself and your past.
It is common to be drawn to a vocation of service as a result of your own life experiences and past traumas. The focus of your role is to be of assistance to others. As you engage in service to others in their healing, you may find that your own wounds are transformed. It is a byproduct of engaged service as opposed to the main goal.
It’s your role as a helping professional to show people how to live a better life.
What constitutes a “good” life? This is a subjective interpretation. It is a possibility that people will notice improvement in their lives as a result of your work with them but this will be determined by their own standards and definitions. There is more than one path to a “good” life.
It’s your role as a helping professional to correct misperceptions and attitudes in society.
It is true that part of your work is to raise public awareness and work towards social change. You are most powerful in this role when you walk the walk and live your beliefs out loud as opposed to pointing out the “wrongness” of another’s beliefs.
It’s your role to ensure that your colleagues follow the code of ethics.
Most professions in service to others are guided by a code of ethics. Your main responsibility is to govern your own behavior and ensure adherence to your respective code. Start with yourself.
You must toughen up so you are less impacted by what you observe in your work.
When we are faced with challenging and traumatizing situations, it seems almost natural to close off so we are less impacted emotionally. However, this is the very time that we (and others) are served by opening our hearts instead. Empathy cannot be expressed through a protected heart.
You must protect people from high-risk living.
Risk is where growth occurs. Risk can add adventure and excitement to our lives. And yes, risk can be dangerous. Instead of avoiding it, we can talk openly about the element of risk and develop plans to help people create safety plans. This is the core essence of harm reduction. In the end, your role may be to help people pick up the pieces after a high-risk situation.
You must leave your values and beliefs at the door.
One of the biggest misperceptions in the helping professions is that we can separate ourselves from our core values and beliefs. You inevitably conduct yourself in accordance with what you most deeply believe and value. It is only through deep awareness of what these are for you that you can transcend the potential of imposing your beliefs and values on others.
Let’s get started!
Which one of these statements strikes the deepest chord with you? I’d love to hear your reactions!