There is a phrase attributed to an Australian aboriginal woman: "If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you are coming because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us work together."
In the 1970's, I was a member of an interracial ecumenical ministerial group in Oakland, California called the East Oakland Clergy. Our leader at that time was the popular Black pastor of the Allen Temple Baptist Church, Rev. Doctor J Alfred Smith, Sr. . I was impressed at a meeting where, speaking in behalf of the Black Community, he told us that they did not want us to help them. What they desired was us to stand with them.
Types of Partnership
o Based on affinity
o Based on shared goals
o Based on commitment
o Based on solidarity
Covenant, the highest degree of partnership, was the word chosen by the writers of Scripture to describe the faithful, unbreakable relationship of God with God’s people.
The professional counselor is often constrained by insurance companies to identify symptoms and disorders to obtain payment for their services. When the focus is on the participant’s symptoms rather than his or her strengths, the counselor proceeds to prepare a treatment plan aimed at symptom reduction.
A strength-based assessment surfaces the strengths the participant can apply in reaching a mutually determined goal as well as the what the professional can bring to augment the process. Synergism, the energy that is greater than the simple combination of forces, results when diverse strengths can align for a common purpose. The County agency with which I contract, instead of a treatment plan, requires a “Partnership Plan for Wellness”, before they will authorize service.
Partnership is grounded in trust. The experience of communities of color makes them less willing to form a partnership when mutual trust and openness had been betrayed by the professional provider or the agency they represent.(Undocumented immigrants and/or their family are especially wary of sharing with the professional.) Demystification of the process and consistent transparency of intention are counseling skills essential to the practice.