One of the major jobs of mental health professionals is providing counseling or therapy. The counseling or therapy pairing often is referred to as the helping relationship. This relationship has been described in many ways:
Corey, Corey, and Callanan (\988) believed that the personal attributes of the mental health professional are the most important variables in the helping relationship. In their view, the mental health professional should possess the following attributes in order to achieve successful therapy:
One of the critical issues in interviewing is the fact that the same skills may have different effects with different individual and cultural backgrounds. Eye contacts differ, for example. In our culture, middle-class patterns call for rather direct eye contact, but in some cultural groups, direct eye contact is considered rude and intrusive. Some groups find the rapid-fire questioning techniques of many North Americans offensive. Many Spanish-speaking groups have more varying vocal tones and sometimes a more rapid speech rate than do English-speaking people. It is also important to remember that the work culture can be defined in many ways. Religion, ethnic background (for example Irish-American and Black-American), sex, and lifestyle differences as well as the degree of a client's developmental or physical handicap also represent cultural differences. There is also a youth culture, a culture of those facing imminent death through AIDS or cancer, and a culture of the aging. In effect, any group that differs from the mainstream of society can be considered a subculture. All of us at times are thus part of many cultures that require a unique awareness of the group experience. (Ivey, 1988, pp. 49-50)
In this chapter, we will present our thoughts on the helping relationship. We will use the word therapist or counselor in our definition to represent the helper.