The Portrait of an Ideal Helper

Ken Wilson speaks at the staff holiday party
Ken Wilson speaks at the staff holiday party

by Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson gave this presentation on the ideal helper at the staff holiday party, and the video is available on our YouTube channel.

Ken Wilson speaks at the staff holiday party

“We’re in a helping field. A helping field is made up of a lot of different things. SUD services. Mental health services. Law enforcement. Social work. And in my humble opinion, our IT computer guy is in a helping field, right? Each profession has its commonality simply in the makeup of the individual.

What is the ideal helper?

It’s not perfection. It’s a work in progress. Each helper is unique to the respective field, and it takes someone special to be successful in this field. It takes the right temperament, the right motivation, and a desire to help others.

Let’s consider this picture of a helper:

  • You’re committed to an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses.
  • You have a basic curiosity and an openness to learning.
  • You have the interpersonal skills needed to establish good contact with other people, and you can apply these skills in the helping relationship.
  • You generally care for people you help, and this caring is expressed by doing what is in their best interests.
  • You’re able to deal with a wide range of your clients’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • You realize that change is typically hard work, and you’re willing to stay with clients as they go through these difficult processes.
  • You realize that clients often limit themselves through a restricted imagination of possibilities for their future, and you’re able to challenge clients to dream and take the steps necessary to fulfill their dreams.
  • You’re willing to draw on a number of resources to enable clients to fulfill their goals.
  • You’re flexible in applying strategies for change, and you’re willing to adapt your techniques to the unique situation of each client.
  • You’re working with clients whose ethnic and cultural backgrounds are different from your own, and you show respect for them by not fitting them into a preconceived box.
  • You take care of yourself physically, mentally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.
  • You do in your own life what you ask of your clients.
  • If you’re confronted with problems, you deal with them.
  • You question life and engage in critical self-examination of your beliefs and values.
  • You establish meaningful relationships with at least a few significant people.
  • Although you have a sense of self-love and pride, you are not self-absorbed.

My intent with this is not to overwhelm anybody to think, “Oh, my gosh. I’m not going to be a helper.” Like I said earlier, it’s a work in progress. Some of you have mastered some of these and others may say, “What the heck? I have to do that?” But that’s OK. That’s what makes us individuals.

So keep working on these skills and developing who you are in this field. At one point in time, you had to ask yourself, “Is the helping profession for me?” And obviously, your answer was “Yes” because you’re here today.

Thank you, everybody who works for West Sound, all of our partners, Deputy Wolner, Kevin Brown, Leanne Kennedy, all of our partners here on our board. Without you, we don’t survive as well. It takes a village, right? It takes our partners to help us to achieve what our goals are and what our mission is. So thank you all for that, and clinicians, case managers, peer support, whatever your role is here. You’re valuable to this company and I appreciate you.”

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