On Becoming a Helper

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What It Means to be a Helper

Within the framework of the global Pathwork organization, being a Helper refers to something that is specific, hard earned and ultimately deeply rewarding. Most of us who have become Pathwork Helpers would say it is a spiritual calling. For everyone else, being a Helper, not to mention being a Pathwork Helper, means pretty much nothing.

And yet for so many people, in so many ways throughout a day, there are so many opportunities to be of help—to be a helper. Beyond the obvious helping professionals such as therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and the like, there are scores of people serving as energetic healers and spiritual directors today. Plus there are clergy and teachers, lawyers and doctors, funeral directors and police officers, and sponsors for addicts and alcoholics in recovery. There are managers who must deal with emotionally reactive employees, because regardless what the job requires, people show up having feelings—most especially about us if we’re their manager. And let’s not leave out anyone who has ever been on a long flight next to someone who needed a listening ear and found a captive audience.

In various ways, at opportune times, many of us have a chance to help others who are in distress or dealing with a conflict. So that would be, like, every day. Depending on our position or situation, we may have received some kind of formal training, but perhaps it didn’t cover all the bases or adequately prepare us to understand what might be going on for someone. Maybe we’ve been the recipient of nearest-neighbor training where we can only hope the one who shared their tips had some wisdom to impart.

For the sake of this book, we’re going to hear what the Guide had to teach us about how to go about being a capital-H-Helper, or a Pathwork Helper. But consider that this umbrella may cover aspects that any kind of helper can use for helping others with more grace and effectiveness.

Included here then are approaches and perspectives that were taught by the Pathwork Guide—more on what and who that is in a moment. This material will be presented within the context of teaching someone to be a one-on-one Pathwork Helper who sits down with a person in a Helper session and helps. But as we’ve just said, helping doesn’t always look like that, even for a Helper. Take what you can use and leave the rest.

We bring our Helpership out into the world wherever and however we are called. Many people have gone through three or fours years of intense Helpership training within the Pathwork organization and never given a single session; their Helpership, though, may be alive and well in their stance with their patients, their guidance as a manager, or in their healing practice that flies under the flag of some other modality.

When the Guide was first teaching people to become Helpers, therapy wasn’t available at every turn the way it is today. Through the decades, scores of licensed therapists have become Pathwork Helpers, weaving this approach into their professional work as appropriate. But let’s be clear, the idea here is not to develop some kind of second-rate ability to counsel. We need to know our limits and respect the boundaries of the licensed therapeutic community. An important aspect of helping is to recognize when referral to a licensed care provider is called for. (Read more in Knowing When to Refer Out)

This book is about sharing proven ways to interact with people who are consciously wanting to walk a spiritual path. Because once we have gone through our own challenges and come out the other side, we now have something to offer others: a healing presence. But that doesn’t mean that being a Helper is about giving advice or telling others what to do to survive. As we’ll discuss, that’s not what we are talking about doing here at all. Truth be told, everyone has a fount of courage, love and wisdom bubbling at the core of their being; if we do things right, we can learn to tap into ours to help others find theirs.

The Path to Becoming a Helper

Typically, before one can enter into a Helpership training program, a person must go through many years—perhaps five years or more—of personal self-discovery work, participating in individual sessions as well as in Pathwork groups. This would then be followed by several years of training to learn how to teach the lecture material, which is then followed by three or so more years of formal training, practicing and apprenticing. It’s a long haul.

All told, tens of thousands of people have had some level of exposure to the Guide’s teachings, and thousands of people around the world have gone on to be trained in multi-year programs to become Pathwork Helpers. Look for a list of current Helpers and current global communities on the Pathwork Foundation website at www.pathwork.org.

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