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Compassionate Activism

An Exploration of Integral Social Care

Mark Garavan

What is it to care for another human being? How do we show compassion for each other? Is ‘social care’ an activity only for paid professionals? This book sets out on a radical re-examination of the nature of social care, the way it is practised, and its purpose. Rather than being confined to a qualified cohort of designated carers, social care is an activity for all. It is the gateway to the humanization of both care-giver and care-receiver. Yet the process of humanization, in order to be effective, needs to encompass both the personal and political worlds. The resultant integral social care can be re-imagined as compassionate activism.
The scope of the book ranges from the practical to the theoretical. It assesses the specific skills needed in providing social care; it examines social care theory and practice; and it extends its investigation as far as the dysfunctions in the current political and economic system. The book proposes a ‘dialogic practice’ as an effective method of achieving personal and social transformation, one which is available to professional practitioners and others alike. The value and process of dialogue affirms that our humanity is primarily characterized by care and compassion rather than individual self-interest.


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Part Two The Interpersonal Dimension 49


PART TWO The Interpersonal Dimension Chapter Three Carl Rogers: A Framework for Personal Liberation Within the broad disciplines of psychology and psychotherapy there are many methods and schools of thought. In this chapter, I propose to examine the concepts and means adopted by the American psychotherapist Carl Rogers.1 I do so not necessarily because Rogers is obviously the best or most learned of psychological theorists but rather because his work, drawn from his decades of direct experience in writing, teaching and providing therapy, of fers a rich and compelling account of what it is to become ‘a person’. By ‘person’ Rogers means somebody who has truly become who they are and who therefore makes choices and communicates in a manner that is true to their sense of self. But Rogers’ conceives of this ‘becoming who you are’ as an open-ended process of development and discovery. In a sense, his work is as much philosophical as it is psychological and has had a profound impact on modern social care both in its theory and in its practice. It can reasonably be suggested that Rogers’ key concern is with what constitutes a human being. As I have argued in the previous chapter, this is a question of the utmost importance in the context of integral social care. In order to be genuine and ef fective in our care, we clearly need to have a rigorous understanding of how we think human beings should be. We need to know this so that we...

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