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perfection (e.g. Col. 3,8-10; Gal. 4,19; 2 Tim.                 man is seen as God’s creation, God can also be
3,16f., see also Eph.4,12-14)                                   perceived as giving a commission. “Threefold
Ability to relate to man and God, faith (e.g.                   commission” thus means:
Luke 17,15-19)                                                  1. A commission to supply help to the person
Depending on the person and the initial situa-                  affected and his/her social environment, with
tion, the aims are differentiated (e.g. Jude 22f).              the aim of more successful living in the sense of
Not only God, but also those seeking help, can                  self-determination in everyday life. For this, the
and should set aims (e.g. Mk. 10,51, see also Mt.               professional must be prepared, under certain
20,32)                                                          circumstances, to adopt uncomfortable attitu-
                                                                des towards the social systems involved.

A first conclusion:                                             2. A commission from the social system (e.g. so-
Secular therapies and biblical models of healing                ciety) with the aim of (re-)integration, maintai-
are both distinguished by a variety of very dif-                ning contacts with society, or the avoidance of
ferently defined aims. In addition, definitions                 further resulting costs. With this commission,
of therapy aims are strongly dependent on the                   forceful means (sanctions and methods of con-
therapist’s own ideas of the mode of action and                 trol) are often associated. Here, under certain
methods of the therapy.                                         circumstances, considerable tensions can arise
Source of aims: the three-fold commission                       with the needs, wishes or values of the person
(Psycho-)therapy is not always a voluntary                      affected.
commission for individual help given by a client                3. A commission which arises from one’s own
to a therapist. In many cases, the interests of the             calling or professional motivation, motivated
cost-carrying agency, a therapeutic institution,                by ethical values and norms (the double com-
an employer or other factors are involved. This                 mandment of love, human rights, professional
second commission, as a rule, aims at (re-)inte-                codex) and informed by professional know-
gration, at a certain level of control over “non-               ledge. This third commission enables a certain
integrated persons”, and the avoidance of resul-                independence from the “external” commissions
ting costs for society. In social work, in work                 of the first two commissions, but, for precisely
this problem is even more pronounced, Bönisch                   this reason, can also lead to conflict.
and Lösch2 had already coined the phrase of the                 What is needed is to be conscious of tensions
“double commission” in 1973. More recently,                     resulting from the different commissions and to
Staub-Bernasconi3 suggested speaking of a                       define as clearly as possible, for oneself and the
threefold commission, denoting the commissi-                    client, in which commission one is acting.4
on to supply help to the individual, a commissi-                1. What commission is my client giving me?
on from society, and a professional commission                  With what does he need help?
in the sense of scientifically-based knowledge                  2. What is my commission (what I should do,
of treatment and transformation and of ethical                  not what it would be “nice to have”) as a thera-
norms.                                                          pist or under our commission as an institution
I share this view, but would add, by way of ex-
planation of the third mandate, that, wherever

2 Böhnisch, L., Lösch, H. (1973): Das Handlungsver-             4 The main feature of professionality “is the requirement
ständnis des Sozialarbeiters und seine institutionelle          to make one’s own picture of the problem situation on the
Determination. In: Otto, H.-U.; Schneider, S. (ed.): Ge-        basis of science and professional ethics and – proceeding
sellschaftliche Perspektiven der Sozialarbeit. Vol. 2, Neu-     from that – to formulate a self-determined commission
wied/Berlin, pp. 21-40                                          which takes into consideration the points of view and
3 Staub-Bernasconi, S. (2007): Soziale Arbeit als Hand-         interests of the person affected by the problem as well
lungswissenschaft. Syste¬m¬theoretische Grundlagen              as those of the (in)direct commission-giver in the social
und professionelle Praxis – Ein Lehrbuch. Bern (Haupt),         care authority.” (Silvia Staub-Ber¬nasconi)
pp.198-202

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