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Helping Skills


Helping skills are for supporting another person, personally or professionally.

Helping others mostly includes helping them to learn something, so that they can help themselves better. This can be from trying to help them overcome difficulties in their lives to learning about particular topics. Many of the skills that can be used are like those used by counsellors, although many counsellors do not use the full range of skills that may be used in non-counselling situations. Other helping skills are used in teaching and many of the skills are used in both teaching and counselling.

Using helping skills in everyday situations is more complicated than professional counselling, although we are often doing it without being aware of it. These courses will help you to become more aware of what is appropriate and permissible in each situation. This includes skills from ones for ordinary conversation to those that might be used by, say, a manager with a distressed member of staff.

Helping other people is not just about learning facts but also learning to feel differently and do things differently. Often the skills are used to help people to learn how to cope better with situations in their lives. Students will learn how to help people to learn from their everyday and professional experiences. The course is based on the principles outlined by John Heron in his book Helping the Client.

Who are the courses for?

Anyone, these course is entirely suitable for people who want to use helping skills in professional situations or in everyday situations.

These are some examples of people who would find the courses valuable:

  • Parents
  • Managers
  • People who work with the public: salespeople, hairdressers, bar staff etc.
  • Social workers
  • People whose friends, neighbours, colleagues etc. keep telling them their problems
  • Teachers
  • Anyone who would like to be better in conversations
  • Counsellors, psychotherapist and advice workers
  • Husbands, wives and partners

In fact the skills are applicable to anything from 10 minutes with a stranger at a bus stop to 10 years with a client in deep psychotherapy.

Classes work well with a mix of gender, abilities and backgrounds. They are equally appropriate for people who know nothing about helping skills and experienced practitioners who want to broaden their skills or learn about John Heron's Six Category model. The way the courses work means that no one will be out of their depth yet everyone will be stretched.

These are serious and in-depth courses on which students learn a lot and yet reading and writing are not required. If you know anyone who may have difficulty reading this who might like to join the class, please tell them about it. If they are at all uncomfortable about this, they can contact the tutor in confidence to discuss their needs.

Course content

This may seem technical and there is plenty of technical in the course for people who like technical. However, the approach is actually quite simple and practical and can easily be learned and used without knowing a lot of technicalities.

  • Process (thoughts & feelings) and content (the story)
  • What is an intervention
  • Supporting people to develop
  • Helping people to learn
  • The conditions for using interventions
  • Giving free attention
  • The six different ways of intervening
  • Developing skills in particular ways of intervening
  • Using interventions to support problem solving

Learning approach

These are practical courses: students work with issues from their own lives. In most classes there is time for students to discuss their own experiences of trying to help others. There are also regular practice sessions in small groups in which students take turns to be talkers and helpers with feedback from the other students and the tutor.

The courses are also about personal development, students will be learning about themselves. We cannot learn to be better at supporting others without developing our own self-awareness.

The courses are light, friendly and supportive. No one is criticised or judged. Everyone is accepted as being equal - including the tutor!

Everything personal is kept confidential, so that students can discuss whatever issues they choose - and only what they choose.

Recommended reading

This course is based on John Heron's Six Category model as described in his book Helping the Client: A Creative Practical Guide The book contains a lot of useful detail including lists of possible interventions. It is not necessary to have this book for the course and it is highly recommended for anyone who wants a book to refer to.

Updated 27th August 2020

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