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Egan’s Helping Model Essay

I found the focus of this assignment, to identify and critique three underlying assumptions of Egan’s Helping Model, rather vague. Perhaps a lesson articulating assumptions overall and applying this information to the Model would have been very helpful. The Model seems straightforward initially but the application of the sections and stages at this point seem overlapping and confusing. One needs to drill much deeper in order to academically critique the Model.

After studying the Model in chapter two, my three underlying assumptions that Egan states to make the Model work is: (i) that a helper does not necessarily need to have a background in the field of psychology nor experience; (ii) helpers know how to place themselves in the speaker’s place by utilizing good empathy and active listening skills thereby creating a warm, comfortable, and safe place for the speaker; (iii) and that the Model is person centered, that a person is capable of solving their own problems successfully. My level of understanding and comprehension of the Model itself is still in the acquiring stage of learning. The actual successful application of the Model is not on my learning radar screen at this moment; therefore, to critique the Model at this point is very challenging indeed.

In order to address the requirements of this paper, I will briefly describe the Model, list three assumptions, and finally, elaborate on one critiquing assumption.

The thrust of Egan’s model is for a person to be able to efficiently manage and not to solve one’s difficult and sometimes uncontrollable problems and ultimately realize one’s full potential. This enables people to become better at helping themselves in their everyday lives, (Egan, 2009, pp. 7, 8). The Model is based on the three stages: explore, understand, and act. The helper should be skilled in the application of all three stages. Furthermore, this Model becomes an exercise of independence and empowerment as well, consequently the person is central to the process and their needs drive the Model by moving the person towards action which leads to choices. The Model acts as a guide, mapping a journey of self fulfillment and self-control as the person explores options guided by the helper. The helper’s approach is based on genuineness, respect, and empathy and the principles of good and active listening.

From my perspective, I feel that Egan’s Model is too simplistic. He makes too many assumptions that it will work, such as: the best person to solve a speaker’s problem is the speaker him/herself; that listeners are experienced in dealing with the diversity of problems that speakers bring to the table; and that all listeners engage the speakers genuinely, respectfully, and with empathy, utilizing good and active listening skills. That is a rather tall order for a listener to have in their “tool box.”

The weakness of the model, in my view, is the leading role of the speaker and the assumed skills of the listener. Both of these assumptions dovetail into each other in terms of task completions and guidance.

Of course, we are all masters of our fate; however, some folks can’t handle everyday stress as so aptly described by Shawn in the video. We tend to focus on the negative and we are constantly critiquing ourselves to do better in everything we do. We need down time and more importantly, we have to find the time to celebrate our successes and catch our breath before climbing the next mountain. Having said that, let’s return to the Model and review the speaker’s (the person struggling with problems) role. Naturally the speaker is central, otherwise he/she would not be asking for help, but speaking to a person such as myself may lead to even further problems.

The Model breaks the helping process into three sections, each describing a stage of the helping and problem-solving process. Each stage is further divided into three tasks that help define the stage and the process involved. Theoretically, the application of the Model is in sequence; however, in practice I can see the tasks overlapping and then the helping process will move backwards and forward between stages. This will create chaos if task one requires a successful completion but the helper ignores task two and moves directly to task three. Is there a vertical alignment here? Has something very important been overlooked?

Then again, this brings into question the inexperience of the helper; the helper may view the process as too rigid, resulting in frustrating the helper which may result in a poorer outcome. Conversely, there can also be a tendency to rush through each stage of the process rather than develop the relationship at the speaker’s pace. The best person to solve or help the speaker with their problems is not the speaker but a trained counselor who in turn interprets the information provided by the speaker and then prepares a plan. Additionally, new problems can be introduced from under-skilled helpers and these under-skilled helpers may offer poor, inappropriate guidance through the problem-solving stages,

In conclusion, I feel that Egan’s Model can be effective but at a lower degree of help. At the same time he incorrectly implies that unskilled individuals can guide a speaker to become more empowered in their everyday lives which is a noble ideal; however, the transition from being controlled by problems to self-control and empowerment is a developing process based on effective guidance/advice as well as time. Egan’s three questions: 1. What is going on? 2. What do I want instead? and 3. How might I get to what I want? seem simplistic in their own merit; however, these three stages are critical to the process and must be administered by skilled helpers.

As the course evolves, I may gain confidence in implementing Egan’s listening and helping instrument as I learn more about his Model. I sincerely feel the Model is appropriate and effective under proper conditions, but the underlying assumption is the skill factor…a skilled helper is the key factor for successful helping. I’ve witnessed too many helpers at a university offering very poor even irrelevant advice to their “clients”. I strongly feel that experience is critical for any helper to offer guidance and advice to a student seeking counsel in course offerings, etc.


1. Egan, Gerard. Schroeder. W., The Skilled Helper, Nelson Education Ltd., United States, 2009, 453 pages. 2. http://www.guidanceand counseling.co.uk/approaches-to-guidance-and-oun/the-egan-skilled-helper-model

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