The pathology of helping and being helped

I had a conversation with a colleague this week, who has a family member suffering from an eating disorder. She was sharing her frustration and concern at this person not being willing to accept the help being offered to her. I know from my own experience, of living with someone with depression, the help we think someone needs is not always what they seek.

This got me thinking about my work as a facilitator. I know that a personal driver for the work I do, is the satisfaction I get from feeling I have helped a group. However, I experience some frustration when I am working with clients, who have employed me for my expertise in group process, but don’t seem ready to use the expertise I can offer.

My reflection is that there are some people that want to be helped, much as there are some people who want to be helpful, and there are others who don’t. The act of being helped needs to be as active as the act of helping, otherwise it becomes ‘being done to’ which is not helpful help.