Facilitating and Assessing Personal Growth in Helper Development Using Hart’s (2014)Four Virtues


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Abstract

During the last decade, calls have been made for a paradigm shift in the training of helping professionals to include an increased emphasis on developing the helper as a person in addition to honing technical proficiency. Models by Ridley et al. (2011), Geller and Greenberg (2012), and Fauth et al. (2007) have identified characteristics and provided working definitions of intrapersonal helper competencies and attributes. However, these are only a descriptive starting point. More work remains in their practical implementation in helper training and research thereupon, as well as in developing appropriate tools for assessing helpers’ capacities in these areas. One exception to this dearth of helper-as-person assessment tools is Hart and Hart’s (2014)Spiritual Assessment Matrix (SAM)—which is based on Hart’s (2014)Four Virtues, a model of personal growth that encourages balance among the 4 interdependent qualities of presence, heart, wisdom, and creation. In this article, I reflect upon my employment of Hart’s model and the SAM to promote intrapersonal and interpersonal competence in master’s students enrolled in an entry-level graduate course in Psychotherapy and Intervention Skills. After surveying Hart’s model, I describe the method by which the students completed and reflected upon the results of the SAM before and after supervised experience with a client. Next, I provide a thematic analysis of the students’ end-of-semester reflections with connections made to extant helper development literature. Finally, I discuss implications of Hart’s model and assessment for helper training while addressing its limitations and provide suggestions for further research.

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