One of the most important elements of a helping relationship is permission to help. This applies to all kinds of helping relationships: coaching, consulting, teaching, psychological counseling, medical practice. If you don't give me permission to help you, it's dangerous for me to imagine that we have a helping relationship at all.

I've learned that if I am to help someone, I must first secure the person's permission to help. That's easy when someone asks for help. But what about if someone simply describes a frustrating problem? Is that a request for help? I say no. I've learned that permission must be explicit, and must be continually renegotiated after it's given, because:

If I want to help, I must repeatedly make sure I have your permission at all of these levels.