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Title:Being a helper is being a friend: Helping perspectives of Southeast Asian refugee women as paraprofessional helpers
Author(s):Jansen, Golieda Gerritdiena
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Allen-Meares, Paula
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Social Work
Women's Studies
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Abstract:This feminist interpretive study explores how four female paraprofessional Southeast Asian helpers perceived helping and themselves as helpers. Conceptualizing helping as lived experience--rather than as techniques or skills as in the professional discourse--helping is studied in the context of the helpers' biography, culture and present work setting.
The research was conducted in a Refugee Women's Program in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in a midwestern city. Ethnographic and biographical research methods were employed during regular visits to the site for over two years. Results are presented in narrative form. A description of the neighborhood, the Refugee Women's Program and the every-day-life experiences of the helpers frame four personal narrative stories.
The study showed gender and biography to be central to the helping perspectives and self-perceptions of the helpers. Past factors, such as cultural, familial and spiritual experiences, created dispositions to become helpers. Present factors, such as the American culture and the Refugee Women's Program coordinators' strong guidance and support shaped helping perspectives and self-perceptions. Helping perspectives were constructed from a unique mix of cultural relationship-centered values and the value of equality gained from living in the United States. The helpers perceived themselves as friends or used familial terms describing their relationships with clients. The helper-client relationship therefore was significantly different from a professional helper-client relationship, and was characterized by long-term involvement, availability, reciprocity, informality, and encouragement to share feelings. Counseling was perceived as teaching and advising and involved helping women clients to navigate between traditional patriarchal cultural values and their newly gained sense of freedom and independence. The counseling style of the helpers was found to resemble feminist approaches to helping.
This study points to the need to reconceptualize the professional helper-client relationship, and to recognize gender as a major factor in a multi-cultural helping discourse.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Jansen, Golieda Gerritdiena
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236487
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236487

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