Characteristics of effective helpers with regard to a human service worker refer to core qualities crucial for any individual to become effective in a helping relationship. When mastered appropriately and utilized successfully, their influence and benefits will be witnessed in all associations. However, mastery of these characteristics and qualities is a process that calls for consistent practice and full deployment of interpersonal skills. Therefore, for a human service worker to be termed as an effective helper, they must portray these characteristics, attitudes and skills. According to Burger (2013), these core features include; “empathy, genuineness, objective-subjective balance, self-awareness, acceptance, desire to help and patience.” In addition to these characteristics, basic helping skills are also fundamental. These interpersonal skills include; listening, communicating, giving feedback, observing, confronting, clarifying, problem-solving, interviewing and report writing. (Burger, 2013)
Notably, these characteristics are not full proof of challenges especially in the work setting of a psychologist. The unique characteristics of an effective helper discussed above, however, are the same areas of vulnerability either by themselves or as they interact with the work setting. For instance, when listening to patients, there might be conflict in negotiating either between empathy and over-identification or objectivity and arrogance. (Saakvitne, n.d.) Additionally, personal life experiences that have an emotional toll such as a traumatic event will bear an impact on the characteristics of a psychologist just as they do to everybody else. Such events might affect their work and how they interact with certain issues, therefore, hampering their effectiveness. (Saakvitne, n.d.)
The strongest and best solution to countering these challenges is the level of self-awareness of the psychologist. It is upon each of the individual helpers to understand and identify the specific areas where they are vulnerable and work towards improving their stature and ensure they are always in control of their vulnerability. Self-knowledge and openness to their individual internal process is the best protection against blinding influence towards the psychologist’s prognostication or narcissism (Saakvitne, n.d.).
Burger, W. R. (2013). Human Services in Contemporary America (9 ed.). Cengage Learning.
Saakvitne, K. (n.d.). Occupational Vulnerability for Psychologists. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from Practice Central: http://www.apapracticecentral.org/ce/self-care/vulnerability.aspx