Helical Model of Communication

Another very important model of communication is the Helical Model of communication. The Helical Model of communication was proposed by Frank Dance in 1967 to throw some more light on communication process. Dance thought of communication process similar to helix.

What is a Helix?

A Helix is nothing but a smooth curve just like a spring which if goes upwards also comes downwards.

The Helical model of communication was designed by Frank Dance keeping the simple Helix in mind.


Let us understand the model with the help of an example.

A child from the very moment he comes to this world starts communicating. When a baby is born, the nurse rubs his back to make the child cry. If the child doesn’t cry, it is an indication of a still born child.

What does crying in this case refer to?

It is actually a way the child is communicating to his parents that he is alive, absolutely hale and hearty and ready to face the challenges of the world.

As the child grows up, he cries whenever he is hungry or expects something from his parents and sometimes simply for his parent’s attention. It is again a child’s own way of conveying his message to the whole world.

When the same child grows up and starts going to school, he soon interacts with his parents, teachers, friends in the form of words. Now crying actually gets replaced by words or his speech but one thing which is common is the process of communication which existed since the child’s birth.

Thus the child actually started communicating from the very first day of his life and has been communicating all through till the present day. This explains one part of helical model of communication.

According to the Helical model of communication, the process of communication evolves from the very birth of an individual and continues till the existing moment.

All living entities start communicating from the very first day of their origin. When seeds are planted, they convey the message to the gardener that they need to be watered daily and should be treated well with fertilizers and manure.

When a plant emerges from the seed it also starts communicating its need for water, sunlight, manure and fertilizers, thus supporting the Helical model of communication. The same also applies for animals, birds, fishes and all living creatures.

Now let us throw some more light on a real life situation

An individual in his elementary classes learns to pronounce a particular word or react to a particular situation.

It has been observed that even though the child grows up, he continues to pronounce that particular word in the same way as he did during his growing up days or for that matter, if the same situation arises again he would under all circumstances react in the same way as he did in the past.

The fear of the child when suddenly the light goes off at night resulting in a complete blackout is present in his younger days as well as when he grows up.

The above example again makes the Helical model of communication clear.

According to the Helical model as the process of communication moves forward it also comes back and is largely dependant on the past behaviour of the individual.

The model believes that communication process is just like a helix which moves forward as well as comes backward and is dependent on the behaviour patterns of the past definitely with some modifications and changes.

As the child grows up, he does make slight changes in his past body movements or past pronunciation or facial expressions. He makes certain changes, modifications in his communication and tries to get rid of the communication errors.

An individual will definitely get less nervous in his teenage days as compared to his childhood days, thus a slight change in his behaviour.

Child (Day 1) communication evolves
Communication continues
↓ ↑
(Communication depends on past activities)
(Current day) communication continues with modifications

The Helical model of communication understands communication in a broader perspective and considers almost all the activities of an individual from day one to till date. It cumulates all the activities occurring in the complete span of an individual that affects the process of communication, which in turn goes forward and also depends on the past activities.

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