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Marcus Bolt - Process Not Prozac

Inadequately trained helpers. From Sahlan Diver, September 26, 2007. Time 20:58

You use the phrase in your article "inadequately trained helpers". I wonder what you would consider would be the main differences between such and an "adequately trained" helper. Is the problem with helpers mainly training? If so, who should devise and give the improved training and what form would it take?

From marcus Bolt, September 28, 2007. Time 15:46

Good question, Sahlan, and one I can only answer with an example. At a recent group meeting, my daughter broke down in tears of sadness and frustration, because she felt no one was doing anything about, or addressing the fact that 'two of most important males in my life can't do latihan at this group'. She was referring to the fact that I cannot go to my old group because of the way I was thrown out as caretaker and that her partner recently tested that it was the right time to become a candidate helper, but at a later meeting, masterminded by someone with an axe to grind, a retest overturned the result. Consequently, my daughter's partner stormed out.

So, there's a stand-off (mine's been going on for two years, the other for two weeks) and the group helpers just don't know what to do, preferring to bury their heads in the sand. They are basically terrified of confrontation.

Now these kinds of negative outcomes to basic human relationship problems are not because the helpers are bad people per se (although there is often a touch of 'I am the older member and Bapak appointed helper, ergo I must be right' which certainly inflames some situations) but, because in the areas of conflict resolution and mediation, most helpers are often unaware of and untrained in even the most basic techniques such as listening, supporting, empathising etc - and have poor social and relationship skills to boot. And I'm afraid the current Subud techniques of merely testing attitudes and 'how should I be' just do not work in virtually every case. They may appear to on the surface (achieving that tranquil harmonious, lobotomised state), but are forced deeper deeper, until airing the problem just makes one look like a rebellious nutter. That's when people leave out of sheer frustration, because no one's listening.

However, having addressed this, it does occur to me that as there are quite a few psychotherapists and councellors within the organisation, it would not be too difficult to formulate an intro-level programme (both theoretical and experiential) that would help the helpers to become a little more congruent, a little more empathetic, a little more capable in carrying out their duties. Could be a six month course to be undertaken during the candidacy period, say.

But I'd start with changing their name. Bapak originally referred to them as 'assistants', rather than helpers. 'Bapak's little helpers' conjures up weirdly gnomic images beavering away in grottoes.

From Sahlan Diver, September 28, 2007. Time 16:36

So it seems you would be in agreement with two points made in my own articles.

1) That helpers need training in people skills, though you are much more specific on the details than I was (psychology is not my area)

2) That just testing attitudes cannot always be helpful, as I point out in my "50/50 rule" article -- Why should we assume both sides are to blame? If one side insists on continuing to behave wrongly out of prejudice or for whatever reason, what use will be the other side trying to improve their attitude, assuming there was anything wrong with their attitude in the first place?

Since I wrote my article I have become enthusiastic about a further reform to the helper system, proposed in Deanna Kemler's article -- that the helpers are chosen by vote of the group as a whole, not just by the group helpers. Testing the person's suitability would still play a part, as it is a kejiwaan role, but the testing would be done and witnessed by anyone in the group who wished to take part. This simple change would empower the helpers, through the group having a due input into the process, and it would also help towards eliminating those occasional incidents of apparent helper cliquishness that can do so much damage.

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