Emerge Therapy

The Rescuer in Depth

General

In my last blog, I introduced the concept of the Triangle, the 3 positions and the switch. This week I am going to look in more detail at the Rescuer position and most importantly – how to stop Rescuing and move to a more Adult to Adult method of relating.

In many ways, I am most comfortable talking about the Rescuer position since this is the role I have historically taken up.


The starting point for the Rescuer is a sense of not feeling ok about themselves. Rescuers find a sense of conditional okayness by helping others – or more often from the social status, kind words and sense of validation received from their good deeds.


Rescuers can come from a number of different backgrounds but the common theme would be that they did not get there emotional and relational needs met. This may be because they came from a large family and had to compete to get their needs met, perhaps their parents were chaotic and busy with little time for them, or perhaps they had a sibling who got all the attention. Whatever the reason, at an early age they realized that being a caretaker would help them get more of their needs met. Perhaps they got lost of praise for helping their siblings, or perhaps they realized by helping their parents that the in return their parents had more time for them.


Rescuers are likely to attract victims and other Rescuers. The Victims play a complementary role in the game and Rescuers may share similar values and world views. Many people in the helping professions will have a tendency to Rescue. In the NHS in the UK, there appears to be an ingrained Rescuer mentality at an organizational level. This often also exists in charities and other helping organizations.


As I mentioned earlier the Rescuer is a Nurturing Parent role. Inherent in the Rescuer – Victim relationship is a sense that the Rescuer knows best.I have lot count of the number of times I have said: “If only people did it my way everything would be fine”.


Because the Rescuer is a Parent role it invites the other into the Victim or Child role. The Rescuer discounts the ability of the Victims to solve their own problems with the underlying belief that they know best.


The problem with the Rescuer / Victim dynamics that whilst the Rescuer is invested in helping the Victim the Victim is invested in staying as they are and thus an inherent conflict arises. I will explore this further when I look at the Victim next week.


This inherent conflict leads inevitably to the switch. Two switches are possible in the Rescuer/Victim dynamic. Because the Rescuer gets most validation from helping the other to change they will eventually get frustrated when the change does not occur. In this instance the rescuer may move to the Persecutor position saying something like “I have tried my best – you just can’t help some people”


Alternatively, the Victim may start to feel pressured and patronized. They may feel they are being forced to do something that they don’t want to do. In fact, the Victim may experience the Rescuer as smothering and overwhelming. In this instance, the Victim may move to the Persecutor position saying something like “leave me alone – I didn’t ask for your help in the first place”


So how to stop rescuing. One definition of Rescuing is to give any help that was not asked for. If you feel somebody is perhaps you wait for them to ask for help. Or offer help but let them define the help they want. Perhaps say something like “is there anything I can do to help you with that?” and if they say no then let it be.


If you start to help – don’t assume you know best. Account for the other person’s ability to solve their own problems and be prepared to help in the way they want you to. Don’t do it for them!!


Think of becoming a Coach rather than a Rescuer. This is a more Adult to Adult relationship. Coaches give help and advice but also believe in the ability of the other to solve their own problems.


Since Rescuing is a defence against your own feelings of being not OK then, in the long run, continuing your own personal growth and finding your inherent sense of okayness will help you step off the Drama Triangle for good.

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In my last blog, I introduced the concept of the Triangle, the 3 positions and the switch. This week I am going to look in more detail at the Rescuer position and most importantly - how to stop Rescuing and move to a more Adult to Adult method of relating.

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