Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Professional Helping Skills 1

  1. Empowerment is defined as the "process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families, and communities can take action to improve their situations" (Gutierrez, 202). Compare and contrast the definition of empowerment with the following terms: rescuing, advising, and codependency (minimum 100 words each)


Rescuing is defined as “to free from confinement, danger, or evil” (Merriam-Webster).  Essentially, rescuing is the act of saving someone from a situation in order to try to protect them from hazards.  By rescuing someone from a situation, they often don’t have to take responsibility for their own circumstances, or make any decisions on their own.  By taking the decision away from them, you also remove the opportunity for empowerment.  Rescuing is not always a negative thing and definitely has its place in the world, as seen in the actions of firefighters and paramedics.  However, when it comes to helping people with day-to-day situations, empowering them to make their own decisions and to improve their world on their own gives them the opportunity to succeed on their own instead of relying on someone else to “save” them when things turn out poorly.

Advising is defined as “to give an opinion or suggestion to someone about what should be done” (Merriam-Webster).  Advising is giving your personal opinion to someone about a specific situation.  I do believe that advising can still allow someone to feel empowered if presented in the correct way. The advisor needs to allow the advisee to have freedom to do whatever they choose with the recommendations given.  Advising should be a collaborative effort between the advisor and advisee in order to empower the advisee to make their own decision with some level of confidence.  However, an advisor also needs to be aware of their role and the effect it is having on the advisee because frequent advising could potentially lead to codependency.  
Codependency is defined as “a psychological condition in which someone is in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship that involves living with or providing care for another person” (Merriam-Webster).  In a codependent relationship, the dependent person relies on someone else to make decisions and resolve situations for them.  The dependent person is rarely empowered in this situation. When someone feels empowered, they are more confident in their ability to manage themselves and their situations.  However, when they feel powerless, they may have trouble making decisions and attach themselves to someone who is willing to make the decisions for them (Lancer).  By empowering someone, they may become more willing to make decisions and take responsibility for themselves, which would allow them to reduce their codependency.

  1. Provide a definition for each and compare and contrast the terms sympathy and empathy. Discuss how each of these terms is or is not related to empowerment. (minimum 100 words)

Sympathy is defined as “the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.” (Merriam-Webster).  Being sympathetic allows someone feel an emotion with the person (Kennedy and Charles 5).  While sometimes it is nice to feel that someone understands how you feel, it can also distract the person who is trying to help by overwhelming them with their own emotions.  Changing this focus does not empower the person living with the circumstance, and can often make them feel looked down upon instead.
Empathy is defined as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions” (Merriam-Webster).  Someone who is empathetic is able to understand the way someone else is feeling, while not necessarily feeling that emotion themselves sympathetically (Kennedy and Charles 5). Empathy gives people the power to feel their own emotions, and empowers them to take charge of their own lives.  Empathy also allows the helper to aid in the situation without allowing it to overwhelm them.
  1. Discuss how empowering individuals, families and communities to take action does or does not resonate with the role of ADF Clergy (minimum 100 words)

Gutierrez defines empowerment as the “process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families, and communities can take action to improve their situations” (Gutierrez).   Essentially, empowerment is the process in which people gain confidence in their ability to control more of their life and make decisions.  I think that empowering people definitely aligns with the role of ADF Clergy.  Most ADF Clergy are not licensed therapists, but despite this, as clergy, many people look to us for guidance in their lives.  Naturally, we want to help people but we do not necessarily have the training to give them a lot of guidance in certain situations.  It is important to understand that different people will need different solutions for similar situations (Sadan 117).  Empowerment gives us the opportunity to help people resolve their problems on their own without telling them what to do, because empowerment is cooperation between the helpers and the helped.
  1. Discuss the following empowerment techniques, how they might be helpful in your work as Clergy and provide an illustrative example of each: focusing on strengths, working collaboratively, building personal power and providing options. (minimum 100 words each)

Focusing on Strengths
Empowerment through focusing on strengths can be a helpful tool within Clergy work. Focusing on the strengths allow the helper to emphasize the gifts and abilities of the person they are working with instead of concentrating on the problems or issues that they are currently dealing with.  These strengths may be in many different areas, including “general functioning, coping with challenging situations, cultural identities, and overcoming adversity” (DuBois and Miley).  
Example:  Susie is trying to complete the Dedicant Program, but she feels as if she is not able to do it.  Instead of just reassuring her that she can do it, I would express the strengths she has that could allow her to be successful.  Express that she is well organized or good at writing, which will allow her to write the essays easily.  Perhaps she already has a strong personal practice, or is an excellent researcher.  Point out these things to her and help her see that these tools are things that could be useful for resolving her issue.  She may tell you that she is terrible at meditation, but try to re-direct the focus to her persistence and how sometimes just trying to do it is just as good as succeeding.

Working Collaboratively
Working collaboratively is an empowerment technique that I feel is more involved than strength-based helping.  When you work collaboratively, you create a plan of action in which allows you to work with the person you are helping to resolve a problem or situation. Clerck describes nine aspects of people-centric collaboration: choice, confidence, convenience, consistency, continuity, connection, comprehension, change, and culture (Clerck).  By giving people choices on how to proceed, you help build the confidence they need to be able to succeed.  Collaboration also requires convenience and consistency, as no one is going to want to work with you if you are hard to work with, or if you give him or her a different message every time they contact you.  Additionally, you need to make sure that they comprehend the plan or collaboration cannot be successful.  Finally, the helper and the person receiving help must be willing to make the changes necessary to work together and foster a collaborative culture between them.  I think this type of working relationship is vital both for Clergy working with members of ADF, and within the Clergy Council itself.  I have seen much conflict between people since I joined the council, and the animosity is very apparent and off-putting.  If the entire council was willing to make the changes necessary to work collaboratively, it could help tremendously.
Example:  Using the example above where Susie wants to work through the Dedicant Path but is not confident in her ability to do so could be resolved using a collaborative working relationship, or in this case, a mentorship.  If Susie needs a plan put in place for her,  you could work together to set realistic goals on essay completion, perhaps allowing you to review the essays for her as she goes to prepare them for submission while also allowing her to progress through the process.

Building Personal Power
Building personal power can be a challenge for someone who lacks self-esteem or faith in their own abilities to be successful.  Cattaneo and Chapman describe empowerment as a process where someone who lacks personal power sets a goal, takes action toward that goal, and reflects on the impact of that action (Cattaneo and Chapman).   This definition shows that in order to feel personal empowerment, you have to not only feel empowered, but also taking action and seeing success from those actions.  To attain personal empowerment, they also describe six separate steps.  You begin by identifying a goal in which to work toward.  You then build the knowledge you need to be successful.  The next step described is “self-efficacy” which is someone’s belief in their ability to succeed.  If the person you are working with truly does not believe the process will work, they are setting themselves up for failure.  Building competency is the next step, and may help with self-efficacy.  If you know you have the skills to do something, it can definitely improve your faith in your own abilities.  The final two steps are to take action, and review the impact that action has.  
Example:  Back to Susie, she has decided she would like to work through the Dedicant Path on her own.  Using the steps listed above, a plan of action could be utilized to give her the tools to complete the program by setting her goal, gaining the necessary knowledge, and putting the plan into action. Personally, I feel that this model of empowerment could be combined with collaboration to create a plan of action and work through it together.

Providing Options
The final empowerment technique that we will review is providing options.  Sometimes people get incredibly overwhelmed by the multitude of paths that are available to them, which causes them to take no action at all. Providing them a clear set of options to choose from still empowers them to make their own decision in how to proceed while also narrowing the focus and reduces how overwhelming the options may be.  I think this method of empowerment could be very useful as Clergy as it gives us the chance to give our advice on which paths we think someone could be successful in while still allowing the person to feel empowered in their own actions.
Example:  Once more, we return to Susie. She has completed her Dedicant Path, but is now completely overwhelmed by what study program she wants to undertake next.  Knowing her strengths, weaknesses, and interests, I could recommend a few of the ADF Study Programs that I think not only would interest her but that I think she could be successful in.  Ultimately she gets to choose which path to take and can easily take any, all, or none of my suggestions, but it narrows the focus some and may help her make a decision to move forward.

  1. Contact the Department of Human Resources or Other Human Service organization closest to the community you serve and inquire about the existence of a human service resource guide and crisis hotline, which individuals in need of help might contact for assistance in locating resources.  (no minimum word count)

Contact person:  Val
Phone Number: (402) 471-3121
Agency:  Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Does a resource guide exist for your area?:  Yes!

Name of resource guide:  Omaha Area Resources
Who compiled it?:  Bridge to Independence – Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services

Does a hotline number exist for your area?:  Yes!  
Hotline number: (800) 254-4202
3 Internet resources available in your community:  

  • Douglas County General Assistance Programs:
    • Resource to provide for the poor of the county who are not eligible for any other governmental assistance and do not have a parent or spouse responsible for their support.  They provide assistance for housing, job training, cremation assistance, and other services.

  • Boys Town:
    • Resources for children, parents and families in difficult situations.  They provide in-home family services, national crisis hotlines, parenting assistance, foster family services, and so many other programs.

  1. Identify and discuss at least three contemporary social issues that impact the role of an ADF Clergy. Summarize each issue, explain its significance to your role as an ADF Clergy and discuss how you plan to address the needs of individuals and families within your local Neopagan community affected by these issues. Examples of contemporary social issues include, but are not limited too: homelessness, violence, teen pregnancy, poverty etc. (minimum 300 words)

Doing research, I found an entire list of contemporary social problems, which gave me a lot to consider.  Ultimately, I decided to focus on three social issues that I think impact not just the role of ADF Clergy, but the Neopagan community in general: Poverty, Same-sex marriage, and drinking and driving (University of Maryland Libraries Guides).
Poverty is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions” (Merriam-Webster).   I think this is a problem that we find, not only within our organization, but within the greater Neopagan population in general.  From my experience, there is a large population of the Neopagan community that faces poverty regularly.  My local community has many members who are unemployed or work in lower paying positions, making financial problems quite prevalent.  Knowing that poverty is such a problem, I work very hard to not make it so people cannot participate because of money issues.  Our grove provides all of our public events and classes free of charge to the community.  We will occasionally hold a raffle to make money for our group, but do not require anyone to purchase these tickets.  Additionally, when I provide services such as weddings or baby blessings I do not have a set price, but instead tell people that I know it’s expensive and stressful so they can pay me what they can afford, and if that answer is nothing, I’m ok with that.  I did not become clergy to make money, and I do not need the extra money, so I do what I can to make it less stressful on our low-income community.
Same Sex Marriage
Same sex marriage is a social issue that I feel effects not just the Neopagan community, but the general community in the United States.  At this point, same-sex marriages are legalized nationally, but that definitely does not mean that they are accepted on the same scale. Living in Nebraska, many people that I meet on a day-to-day basis thinks homosexuality is a sin and they are avidly against the legalization of same-sex marriages.  Many churches and pastors will not provide these services to anyone.  I feel passionately that any couple that wishes to be married should be allowed to, despite their gender identity.  This is one of the reasons that I was so strongly drawn to become a member of clergy when I did, I want to be able to provide marriage services to people who may otherwise have a difficult time finding a celebrant.  Within ADF, I think we have a positive and open community when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, but I know this is not the case locally so I do my best to try to be available to the community.
Drunk Driving
While drunk driving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about social issues, it is something that I feel truly does have an impact in the Neopagan community.  In 2014, 9967 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the United States, including 1070 children age 0 to 14 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  So how does this affect the Neopagan community and my work as ADF Clergy?  ADF festival, rituals, and general functions are known to regularly include alcohol in some form or another.  Many people use alcohol as their waters of life, and may also offer alcoholic beverages in the pre or post ritual socialization.  Regularly, most of those people imbibing then have to drive home.   While I see no problem with having a drink with supper before driving yourself home, not everyone is willing or able to recognize their own limits with alcohol, which is hazardous not only to them, but to the other people on the road.  As a member of ADF Clergy, I work hard to set a good example for others.  I refuse to drink if I know that I have to drive anywhere.  I always provide alcohol-free options for those who have to do the same.  Additionally, I have learned to be ok telling someone that I do not feel they are safe to drive and have offered to drive them home myself.  Other times, I have stopped their consumption before they hit that point.  It does not always make me the most popular person at a party, but I would rather know everyone made it home safe.   While I do not think everyone that drinks in excess has a drinking problem, I have also gathered resources for alcoholism in my community just in case.

  1. For each of the contemporary social issues above explain where you would refer individuals or families affected by these issues for help in your local community. Discuss why you feel the resources you have chosen would be appropriate and how someone would access each resource provided. (minimum 200 words)
Poverty can be a touchy subject with many people.  If they were interested in resources though, I would point them toward the Omaha Housing Authority, which can help them gain housing assistance and may even help them find a job.  The Omaha Housing Authority does require an application to be filled out to see if you qualify.  Another source is the Siena/Francis House, which has shelters, food and clothing banks, a healthcare clinic, and employment training which may aid their struggles.  This resource allows walk-ins to stop by and start the process to get them the help they need. The third resource I would give them would be the Food Bank for the Heartland.  This food bank has mobile pantry hours and a backpack program for children.  You can contact the local United Way for location and time information for this service.  

Same-Sex Marriage
Nebraska now recognizes all same-sex marriages, so the initial resource for couples would be the Douglas County Courthouse where they could get their marriage license.  Additionally, Heartland Pride puts out a guide each year, including advertisements to vendors who are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.  These resources may be helpful in wedding planning in the city.
Drunk Driving
I am not entirely sure that I would make a referral to someone who I have asked not to drink and drive.  As I mentioned before, not all people who get drunk have a drinking problem.  However, after growing up with an alcoholic I do not take the situation lightly.  There are a large number of resources that I could provide to someone if I felt that they did have a drinking problem and needed assistance.  There are addiction and recovery services here in town to treat both adults and adolescents, so giving them the phone number would be all that is necessary to schedule an appointment.  There are also al-anon/alateen and other family groups that meet across the city and allow people to simply walk in and join.   These resources may be helpful, but again may not be necessary.  I may instead show them statistics to explain the effect that their poor choices may have on them and others.

Works Cited

Cattaneo, L.B. and A.R. Chapman. "The Process of Empowerment: A Model for Use in Research and Practice." American Psychologist (2010): 646-659.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Impaired Driving: Get the Facts. 26 January 2017. March 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html>.

Clerck, J-P De. Worker empowerment: 9 Cs of people-centric collaboration. 2016. March 2017. <https://www.i-scoop.eu/worker-empowerment-8-cs-people-centric-collaboration/>.

DuBois, Brenda L. and Karla Krogsrud Miley. Social Work: An Empowering Profession. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005.

Gutierrez, Lorraine M. "Understanding the Empowerment Process: Does Consciousness make a difference?" Social Work Research 19.4 (1995): 229-237.

Kennedy, Eugene and Sara C. Charles. On Becoming a Counselor. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001.

Lancer, Darlene. Power, Control & Codeppendency. October 2015. March 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/power-control-codependency/>.

Merriam-Webster. Dictionary. n.d. March 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary>.

Sadan, Elisheva. Empowerment and Community Planning. 2004.

University of Maryland Libraries Guides. SOCY 105: Introduction to Contemporary Social Problems. 16 December 2016. March 2017. <http://lib.guides.umd.edu/c.php?g=326995&p=2194601>.

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