Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 170-178

First online:

Guidelines for the functioning of a helping service

  • Raphael L. VitaloAffiliated withChild-Adult Mental Health Center

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The purpose and the operation of an effective helping service are defined along the principles developed by R. R. Carkhuff. A functional operationalism directly linking each aspect of a helping service to the objective of servicing the needs of those people for whom the service exists is developed. The personal fitness of the staff as defined by their effectiveness at living is identified as the critical variable determining service effectiveness. The level of staff performance on the operational indices of physical, emotional, and intellectual functioning including, specifically, the interpersonal dimensions of empathy, respect, genuineness, concreteness, confrontation, and immediacy is designated as the operational basis for the organizational decisions of hiring, firing, promotion, and role assignment. Systematic programs designed to meet specific client needs serve to complete staff and service effectiveness.