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Lifintsev D.V., Serykh A.B., Lifintseva A.А. (2018) Helping relationship in the theory and practice of social work (based on foreign research). National Psychological Journal, 11(2), 38–45


Background. The functionability of the social worker, their professional competencies and the quality of interpersonal contact with the client create the background for analyzing the helping relationships as a main factor of efficacy of psychological help.

The Objective of this paper is to analyze the phenomenon of «helping relationships» in social work. The phenomenon of “helping” lies in the basis of helping relationships. “Helping” means finding a joint solution of certain problem of the client and the development of their social competencies. Client requests are given in brief, they include the provision of certain services and support/guidance in difficult life situations. Particular attention is paid to the analysis of the pioneering works in the field of helping relationships, e.g. F.Biestek, H.Perlman, R.Weiss, etc. Helping relationships are viewed through the categories of communication, interaction, working alliance, form, connection. The key components of a helping relationship are reciprocity, feelings, knowledge, reality, interest, goals, impartiality, ability to offer something new and facilitation. Helping relationships are always associated with changes in both the social worker and their client. Helping relationship in the practice of social work developed for a specific purpose and terminate when the goal is achieved. Helping relationship differ from other types of interpersonal relationships. Care for the client system, expectations, empathy and clear communication, authenticity of experiences and acceptance, authority are important factors in the development of helping relationship. The main stages of helping relationship in the practice of social work are considered: the initial stage, research and evaluation, problem solving and completion.

Research Results. Despite a significant role that helping relationship plays in social work, there are still the issues that require further study, e.g. distinction of helping relationship and therapeutic relationship, expert competence, capablity of building mutual assistance and describing the quality of mutual assistance.

Conclusion. Helping relationship is a long-term relation within the framework of professionally assigned roles and statuses related to the support and assistance to a person in their development and social adjustment, incentivizing individual changes and preserving or restoring their psychological and social well-being. Building and developing mutual assistance is possible only within the relatuins based on empathic understanding, respect, positive feedback, authenticity, congruence, immediacy and warm feelings towards the client.

Received: 10/23/2017
Accepted: 11/30/2017
Pages: 38-45
DOI: doi: 10.11621/npj.2018.0205

Sections: Health Psychology;

PDF: /pdf/npj-no30-2018/npj_no30_2018_038-045.pdf

Keywords: social work; social support; helping relationship; social assistance;

Available Online 01.08.2018


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Lifintsev D.V., Serykh A.B., Lifintseva A.А. (2018) Helping relationship in the theory and practice of social work (based on foreign research). National Psychological Journal, 11(2), 38–45

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