The methodology Presence is described by prof. Baard from the Netherlands based on research on how priests are working with people who feel marginalized. He found the following characteristics:

  • Just be with the person, without any other goals then just to be there
  • Be with the person unconditionally, without any judgment over what the person does or says
  • Offer your help and advice when the person asks for it
  • See the other as equal to yourself
  • Be loving towards the person
  • The relationship with the person is more important than other issues

Based on these characteristics Baard developed the methodology which now is used in many places to contact with marginalized people, like homeless people, drugs users, people who avoid the care system, etc. The methodology isn’t seen as actual care giving; it’s more a bridge to formal care giving.


However prof Baard doesn’t mention it, the method of presence has a great resemblance with the Theology of Liberation and the work of Paulo Freire: being in a real dialogue with the poor and oppressed.


Compared with gentle teaching.

McGee was very much inspired by the with the Theology of Liberation and the work of Paulo Freire, so it’s no wonder we see this in the practice of Gentle Teaching.

The characteristics of Presence are also important characteristics of gentle teaching. Yet there are some relevant differences.

First gentle teaching is usually applied in formal care giving relationships. And also often in group settings where the care giver isn’t only responsible for the wellbeing of the person he want to make contact with, but also for others at the same time.  If a person doesn’t know how to manage his emotions without harming himself or others, the caregiver may have to lead the person in an authoritative, but gentle way to get through this turbulent moment. As we say in gentle teaching, the care giver is the ‘moral guide’ for the person as long as he hasn’t been able to develop inner morality himself.


The second and perhaps more important difference is, that in gentle teaching we more intentionally focus on teaching the person the feeling of companionship. And beyond that help the person improve his quality of life and happiness. These explicit goals are not set in Presence.

In the 1st dimension of the methodology of gentle teaching the resemblance with Being Present is at most. There we can use the insights and experiences of Presence very well. In the other dimensions of gentle teaching we go steps further than in the methodology of Being Present.