In this section we include materials related to preparation and involvement in member care/humanitarian work.
It would be very helpful for a current article to be written which revisits the training and use of mental health and other health care specialists in the mission/humanitarian sectors. See the June-July 2007 entries on our weblog, Reflections and Resources for Good Practice, for more thoughts on training.
1. Member Care Involvement and Training:
Special Applications for Mental Health Professionals and Pastoral Counselors
1. Training and Using Member Care Workers. Richard and Laura Mae Gardner, Missionary Care (1992) pp. 315-331.
2. What Mission CEOs Want from Mental Health Professionals. Paul McKaughan, Enhancing Missionary Vitality (2002) pp. 201-206.
3. Research in Mental Health and Missions. William Hunter, Enhancing Missionary Vitality (2002). pp. 475-484.
4. Field Counseling: Sifting the Wheat from the Chaff, Len Cerny and Dave Smith. Doing Member Care Well (2002) pp. 489-499.
5. Consulting in Member Care —This is a brief description of a week-long member care trip to work with mission/aid staff attending an interagency conference in India. It involves a variety of services: leadership consultation, brief counseling, debriefing, conference speaking, and training. Names and some details have been changed for confidentiality.
6. Some additional articles going back into the 1980s and which are included in Helping Missionaries Grow (1988):
[Note: This book is in the MC Library section of this website]
**Building Relationships Between Mental Health Specialists and Mission Agencies by Le Roy Johnston (MHM Conference USA 1983)
**A Preliminary Study on Psychologists in Missions by Kelly O'Donnell.
7. The Arabic Member Care web site has many articles in English translated into Arabic, inlcuding articles focusing on member care in regions such as Africa, Middle East, North Africa, Asia, South Asia, Latin America, etc.
2. Humanitarian Sector
For more information on the backgrounds and needs for workers in within the humanitarian sector, see the Aid Workers Forum and click on the "Being An Aid Worker" section.
" If I may I will offer a word of unsolicited advice that I wish had been given to me. Initially I nearly packed up aid work because of confronting incompetence, corruption and difficulties while believing I could change everything. I needed to learn that the only thing that needed change was myself. Do no harm, enjoy what you are doing, maybe touch a life here and there - and you will wish you had taken this step years before!"
3. Member Care—Core Consultation and Seminar (see the five attachments at the end of this page)
This material is based on a week-long consultation/seminar in 2008 that covered four essential topics in member care.
Here are the four topics along with the Introduction. These materials are located in the attachments below.
Member Care Consultation--Syllabus
1. Member Care Overview
2. Staying Healthy
3. Team Development
4. Crisis/Contingency Management
4. Member Care Courses (updated 2005; click here to access the course syllabus or see the attachment below)
**This course overviews several facets of the member care field. It is based on a graduate-level course taught initially at Fuller Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology in California, USA. It explores four broad areas of member care, drawing on the experiences of many colleagues and the extensive literature in this field, along with contributions of clinical psychology, human resource development, and missiology: (a) the current status and future direction of this field; (b) the adjustment challenges of mission/aid/development personnel; (c) the different helping roles in missions for caregivers including mental health professionals, mission leaders, and missionaries themselves; and (d) the development of innovative approaches to missionary care, such as field teams, crisis care, radio programs, the internet, and interagency consultations.
**Other courses in member care are offered by Heartstream Resources (usually twice a year for two weeks in Pennsylvainia, USA) and by Operation Mobilization (Face to Face--on leadership/personal growth, in different locations; contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org ). Link Care offers some related training in California in January (Building Skills for Member Care Excellence) as also does Narramore Foundation (Counseling and Member Care Seminar, primarily in Thailand).
**Columbia University in North Carolina USA also offers doctoral and masters level training and a Professional Certificate program in member care. For more information contact: Dr. Roni Pruitt Rpruitt@ciu.edu
5. Excerpt from "Training and Using Member Care Workers" by the Gardners (1992)
(for the complete article see the attachments below)
Suggestions for In-House Member Care Workers
It is not always easy to find a comfortable niche in the mission agency and settings where one provides services. This is especially true for member care workers who are new to the mission. Here are several practical guidelines (adapted from O'Donnell & O'Donnell, 1990) to help in-house member care workers tailor their services and professional style to fit into the organizational ethos. Many of these suggestions are also relevant for outside consultants. Member care workers would do well to discuss these suggestions together, and to seek out accountable relationships and confidants who can give them feedback as to how they are coming across to mission personnel.
1. Let yourself be known as a real person and as a true servant of Christ. Show your love for Scripture, people, and the ways of the Lord.
2. Use the same terms as the groups with which you work. This includes theological or Scriptural terminology, as well as special terms for colleagues and ministries (e.g., language helpers, personnel officers, mission stations). Avoid technical, psychological jargon and "buzz" words.
3. Contribute in ways beyond your professional services. For instance, one of our Wycliffe counselors is skilled at remodeling; every apartment he lived in for any length of time was vastly improved by his presence. Take your turn proof-reading a publication, collating papers, or cleaning up after tea.
4. Avoid dichotomizing spiritual and psychological approaches to care. Emotional health and spiritual living are not mutually exclusive. For example, psychological problems, interpersonal relationships, or authority issues can be addressed from Romans chapters 12-15.
5. Providing effective treatment to staff, especially leaders, can increase credibility (Proverbs 22:29). Try offering educative or preventive seminars on stress, burnout, and team relationships; serving as a consultant in personnel matters; developing written materials for specific issues such as reentry or family adjustment packets; and having a voice in leadership discussions which deal with personnel issues, when invited to do so.
6. Develop relationships with influential people who can help increase the acceptability and availability of your services. Examples include evaluators, trainers, ministry and department heads, and others who are respected in the agency.
7. Do not attack the organization or be critical toward its practices. If there are concerns, seek out the appropriate leaders and discuss the situation or practice privately. Every organization has strengths and weaknesses--do not be overly alarmed when you uncover unhealthy practices. Every organization also has its own ethos--know what it is, understand it, and work with it.
8. Move slowly. It takes time to develop credibility, respect, and a reputation of trustworthiness (Zechariah 4:10). It also takes time to develop relationships with busy leaders.
9. Anticipate a "learning by doing" experience. Much of your training has to be adapted to a cross-cultural or in-house agency setting and may need revision. Be prepared to encounter issues and problems no one ever anticipated during your training program.
10. Expect to make some mistakes (the organization will too). You will probably make some errors as you set up your services, apply ethical principles, and handle the myriad of logistical matters (agency policies, budget, phone calls, reporting system, record keeping, and so on).
11. Adjust your expectations from having worked in private practice and non-mission settings. Adequate pay, professional respect and courtesy, adequate facilities--none of these may be true for your field experience. Expect to reach out to people, rather than waiting for them to come knocking on your office door.
12. Get personal support from confidants--develop an emotional and relationship network for personal health and balance. Involve yourself with the mission community and friends, and maintain healthy, wholesome relationships.
13. Understand and anticipate some of the ethical ambiguities of practice in mission settings. Holding the line on ethical and professional standards while at the same time maintaining and building trust and confidence between yourself and administrators is not easy, but it is essential. One area of ambiguity is the matter of dual relationships--the people you see in counseling are those with whom you socialize, worship, and discuss organizational business. Another is the matter of making referrals when you are beyond your skill level when there is no one to whom to refer.
6. Team Resiliency. We have developed a five-lesson course to help strengthen teams. It includes short readings, brief audio lectures, discussion questions, and a power point presentation. You can access it for free at www.Nixty.com. View the course syllabus here on this site: click here Or on the Nixty site: click here. Note: to access the course, you need to sign up as a user on Nixty (free and fast). The password for the Team Resiliency course is: strongteams.