Helper theory

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Helper theory or the helper therapy principle is a model, first described in 1965 by Frank Riessman, attempting to explain the therapeutic effect for both people in a "helper" and "helpee" relationship within self-help/mutual-aid support groups.[1] According to the model, in the process of helping another member, the helper gains an increased sense self-efficacy making the relationship mutually beneficial.[2] Members in a self-help/mutual-aid group found that being in both helper and helpee roles correlated positively with their psychological wellbeing and perceived benefit of the group. Such members had a greater sense of well-being and a more favorable opinion of the group than members who were helpees only.[3]


  1. ^ Riessman, Frank. "The 'helper' therapy principle". Social Work 10 (2): 27–32. ISSN 0037-8046. 
  2. ^ Roberts, L.; Salem, D; Rappaport, J; Toro, PA; Luke, DA; Seidman, E (1999). "Giving and receiving help: Interpersonal transactions in mutual-help meetings and psychosocial adjustment of members". American Journal of Community Psychology 27 (6): 841–868. doi:10.1023/A:1022214710054. ISSN 1573-2770. PMID 10723537. 
  3. ^ Maton, K (February 1988). "Social support, organization characteristics, psychological wellbeing and group appraisal in three self-help populations". American Journal of Community Psychology 16 (1): 53–77. doi:10.1007/BF00906072. ISSN 1573-2770. PMID 3369383.