Supporting Mutual Help

 

Experiential Learning Course

 

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Adapted from writings in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Updated Nov. 2014.

 

A Course evolved from experience of people helping themselves and each other using personal, small group, large group, as well as community processes for gaining and sustaining wellness.

 

Course Process:

Participants engage in experiential learning in structured experiences and role play

 

Course Outcomes

Participants will have experience in:

o   Participating in self-help and mutual-help

o   Identifying pre-existing local mutual-help and mutual-help networks

o   Establishing rapport with mutual-helpers and mutual-help networks

o   Supporting and enabling local mutual-help and mutual-help networks

o   Strengthening informal mutual-help networks

o   Supporting networking of networks

o   Evolving a culture of Self-help and Mutual-help within Organizations

o   Evolving Enabling Environments within self-help and mutual-help

Day One Themes:

o   Participating in self-help and mutual-help

o   Identifying pre-existing naturally occurring local mutual-help and mutual-help networks

o   Establishing rapport with mutual-helpers and mutual-help networks

 

Day Two Themes:

o   Establishing rapport with mutual-helpers and mutual-help networks

o   Supporting and enabling local mutual-help and mutual-help networks

o   Supporting  & strengthening informal mutual-help networks

Day Three Themes:

o   Sustaining a mutual-help enabler role

o   Complementary ways for Interfacing service delivery and mutual-help processes

o   Supporting people strengthening their own agency – their own self-help

Day Four Themes:

o   Enabling Environments

o   Evolving a culture of Self-help and Mutual-help within Organizations

o   Evolving Enabling Environments within self-help and mutual-help

Day Five Themes:

o   Integrating all of the experiences


 

READINGS:

MUTUAL-HELP AS A SOCIAL PHENOMENON

 

Some features of the mutual-help phenomenon:

1.    It’s already present as a little noticed phenomenon

2.    No one is ‘running’ it

3.    There’s no ‘organization’ to ‘join’ as a ‘member’

4.    Those involved typically don’t notice that they are involved

5.    It is self-organizing

6.    Nurturing ways that work are widely available within the phenomenon

7.    Often, folk engaged in self-help and mutual-help are natural nurturers (naturally good at nurturing)

8.    Networking among self-helpers and mutual-helpers is a naturally occurring phenomenon

9.    What works tends to be passed on during networking

10. Mutual-help is a bio-psychological, bio-social and bio-cultural phenomenon

11. It is a phenomenon present across the cultures in the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region and wider afield

12. In mutual-help, there tends to be bio-cultural universals within cultures, bio-social variation within societies and bio-psychological differences between people (this from an eleven country feedback in 2004)

13. Mutual-help tends to happen as appropriate to context

14. Mutual-help has a self-help quality to it

15. People receive reciprocal psycho-emotional benefits from mutual-help

16. Mutual-helpers maybe, and typically are, experiencing similar stressors

17. Mobile phone calls and messaging may support the mutual-help processes

18. People do not receive financial reward for their mutual-helping

19. It differs substantially from service delivery in a number of respects

20. Evaluating takes place constantly as an inherent aspect of mutual-help

21. Mutual-help may be perceived as a threat by Service Delivery people

22. It can in some contexts be the best support that people receive

23. Mutual-helpers have authentic authority not zero-sum authority; as in, if I have more authority you have less

24. Service Delivery bodies may provide a local-lateral linking role in supporting mutual-help – refer Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action and Complementary Ways.

 

Regarding point 22, a commonly reported statement from fire-affected people following the Victorian 2009 bush-fires in Australia was that one of their most pressing emotional needs was to find out about whether others they knew in the fire affected areas had died or being injured or had survived and where they were. Typically, the best and only source was other fire-affected people.

This phenomenon of checking on people’s wellbeing and location continued for many months afterwards and other locals were the best informers. This aspect of local mutual-help networking was extensive and largely unnoticed by professional service delivery people.

Another commonly reported statement was that the most beneficial psycho-emotional support they received was, again, from other fire-affected people.

A common expression was ‘only those who went through it and who are going through it can possible understand what I am going through’.

With every respect, another commonly reported statement was that the mutual-support they receive from other fire-affected people was far better than what was provided by professional support people.

 

Mutual Help Pioneers in Australia

 

An Australian community psychiatrist Dr Neville Yeomans was one of a few pioneers around the world action researching the healing potency of mutual-help.

Dr Yeomans commenced his research in 1958 and carried out action research till his death in 2000.


 

Differences between Service Delivery and Mutual-Help

 

Environment’ is a very different phenomenon in service delivery contexts compared to mutual-help contexts.

While enabling values may be similar, enabling of enabling environments may differ considerably in these two contexts. People engaged in mutual-help typically do it as an integral aspect of every-day life as they randomly meet and spontaneously engage with others. At times they may pre-arrange link ups. When engaged in mutual-help they are typically immersed in the moment and have no framing of the moment as ‘doing mutual-help’.

Mutual-help has little or nothing to do with integral aspects of typically service delivery.

Mutual-help has little or nothing to do with:

o   Accountability

o   Advocacy

o   Aspirational expectations

o   Assessment

o   Being a volunteer

o   Career

o   Centralized policy – rather organic policy is that which works

o   Clinical viewpoints

o   Competency

o   Delegation

o   Development

o   Diagnosis

o   Disease prevention

o   Documentation

o   Economics

o   Fund acquittal

o   Funds

o   Income

o   Leadership

o   Liability

o   Malfunction

o   Management

o   Measurement

o   Models

o   Plans

o   Politics

o   Prescription

o   Problems

o   Problem solving

o   Professional indemnity

o   Quality

o   Risk management

o   Science

o   Scientific evidence

o   Service

o   Solutions

o   Steps

o   Structure

o   Systems

o   Teams

o   Treatment

o   Treatment Plans

o   Work

 

Self-help and mutual-help are very alive, well and vibrant as a social phenomenon in the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region and perhaps throughout the world.

 

 

Laceweb Homepage

 

 

Resonant Links:

 

o    Wellnet

o    Interfacing Alternative and Complementary Well-being Ways for Local Wellness

o    Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action

o    Laceweb - Community Ways for Healing the World

o    Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes

o    New Social Phenomena

o    The Fastest Growing New Social Movement on the Planet

o    Sociograms - Figures Depicting the Evolving of Healing Networks in East Asia Oceania Australasia

o    Evolving a Dispersed Urban Wellbeing Community

 

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