‘Helping Them Hold Up Their World’—Parents of Children with Complex Needs and the Beneficent Organisation

  • Carl Walker
  • Angie Hart
  • Paul Hanna


In a lovely article on many of the inherent contradictions of being a clinical psychologist, David Smail (1) said that ‘we cannot escape the clinic’. When it comes to helping people experiencing mental distress, it would be a callous society that stood back and offered them nothing on the presumption that, as Charles Waldegrave points out, therapy is little more than making poor people feel a bit better about themselves (2). Perhaps the problem however is not with therapy per se but with what therapy has become. The therapeutic relationship, when understood as an instance of ordinary humanity and as a source of solidarity can be eminently valuable. When it is treated as a technology of change with a progressive emphasis on what’s inside people’s heads, and that culminates in people becoming patients schooled to bear responsibility for circumstances beyond their control, then it loses its value (1). If we pare back the therapeutic process to understand Roger’s unconditional positive regard and empathy not as tools to achieve change but as an end in and of themselves, and where compassion rather than change becomes the overriding impulse, it allows us to see just how many other sites of social solidarity, compassion and humanity can be understood within this broader care framework. This is because empathy, support, positive regard and compassion can be delivered in most places, by most people.


Care Practice Parent Carer Mental Distress Social Solidarity Trained Volunteer 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Walker
    • 1
  • Angie Hart
    • 2
  • Paul Hanna
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Applied Social ScienceUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  2. 2.School of Health Sciences and Boingboing Social EnterpriseUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  3. 3.School of Hospitality and Tourism ManagementUniversity of SurreySurreyUK

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