Natural Helpers

Stories of recipients and expert family members

Product: Book

Trim size in cm: 15x21

Pages: 220

ISBN: 978-88-6137-826-1

Publication date: 01/05/2011


An electrician, a construction worker, a homemaker, a factory worker, a handicapped person, an immigrant, a shop assistant, a manager—the book describes the life of ordinary people who are at the same time extraordinary social workers. By chance or because of personal vicissitudes, these people have developed substantial and even superior social help skills that sometimes exceed those of professionals. Their skills are not the result of formal study, they come from life experience and although no diploma certifies them, they have the same value and depth.

The volume presents interviews with such “natural helpers” collected in the course of a research project run by the Department of Sociology of the Catholic University of Milan. The aim of the project was to document and validate informal social work skills and show that the welfare system is formed first of all by real life experience (the “human force” mentioned by Don Milani) rather than by cognitive models, as important as these may be. The research has indeed shown the enormous importance of human cooperation.

All the “natural helpers” of this book (simple recipients, relatives or friends of persons in need) have been fortunate enough to meet professionals sincerely open to dialogue and ready to apply their skills in the field of social help.

The book has a narrative pace that makes it appealing to all kinds of readers: recipients, family members who will recognize their own experiences, and professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, educators) who increasingly consider recipients and families their precious allies.

- Introduction: Poor but wonderful therapies: beyond clinical technicisms (Fabio Folgheraiter)
- Tell me whose brother he is (Roberto Cuni)
- I love my wife (Giovanni e Virginia)
- The retardation would be permanent (Barbara Zerneri)
- Guided by emotions (Rosa Manara)
- In other people's shoes I understand (Sandra Seminario)
- I've put my neck out! (Sergio Zardoni)
- In good time (Ignazio Caruso)
- An unexpected gift (Agostino Goisis)
- Afterword: When experience becomes thought (Patrizia Cappelletti)