Assistants' needed qualities

   "We must become the change we want to see happen", K. Gandhi.



   Assistance is a gift we choose to provide someone with because we experience good feelings for that particular person : the feelings are basic because they are the fuel for the action.

   Making a difference in someone else' s life is a privilege but also a responsibility : we might find ourselves led to do more than we thought at the beginning, but the happiness that flows from the relationship is a reward so big that it pays for all our efforts.

   "Kindliness, patience, understanding and steadiness are qualities required from any therapist" (V. Axline). Additionally, while respect must be paid to all children, ability to love some of them must come on a mutual choice basis. The frame of mind is to feel devoted to children and to helping them, and to sustain an interest in psychology, particularly in psychoanalysis so to have an ability to understand problems that can occur while being with a child to grasp transference reactions that may happen (previous experience in psychoanalysis is not requested but is definitely an asset).

   An other useful skill is the ability to put oneself in the other person' s shoes and avoid project on others our own needs and drives. "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" (Anais Nin), which can lead to misunderstandings when our own unconscious projections prevent us from perceiving the child correctly.

   Because of the human trend to relive the past in the present situation both for children and adults, assistants must be able to view their attitudes critically to detect their mistakes and strive to achieve self-supervision : "Truly committed professionals engage in a life-long self-examination as a means to remain self-aware and genuine" (Corey, Corey and Callanan). We must remain permanently alert to verify that we give priority to satisfying the children' s needs and not ours.

   To put it practically, for doing the best job it demands good control of oneself, good listening skills, good ability to become emotionally involved with the children, including ability to provide them with physical closeness without sexual overtones.

   So the prospective assistants need to be willing to work and improve themselves along such lines as this kind of work is an on-going training and challenge with new situations happening without prior notice in everyday life.

   But prospective assistants need not to be perfect persons as there is no such a state in human life, but they must be willing honestly to mean well for the children and much be moved by a genuine desire to make efforts in such trends. We can provide each other with mutual support any time when needed and discuss at length in the evening any issue having been raised during the day.

   Also, assistants must be ready to face their own unresolved issues since their childhood that might be reawakened by their relationship with children.

   But as a whole, the most basic need remains the ability to be non-directive in everyday life with the children to allow them exteriorize any time in any way the emotions kept repressed in themselves that are causing the mental or physical symptoms.
   Frequently the best behavior to help such children is to do nothing : just listen and acknowledge what the child is expressing, because actually this is not doing nothing, it is doing what is best to help the child progress on ces recovery course. But doing nothing can be pretty difficult when you are in the middle of a highly emotional situation, you would like to find an outlet, any outlet, but that could block the child at that moment.


rev. 2015

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