Title Lay Counselling in humanitarian organisations
Project Number LdV-ToI-2010/DK-1006
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
In the participating countries of the project psychosocial problems are on the rise. A growing elderly population, social problems and lifestyle-related health problems are increasing, and depression is estimated to become the most prevalent health problem in Europe. Demands are exceeding the capacity of the public health sector and humanitarian organisations are filling the gap in providing social support.
Trainers in humanitarian organisations are in a key position to respond to this situation in enabling their staff and volunteers to provide psychosocial support through lay counselling. However trainers need further education in order to provide high quality training that can be cascaded through their organizations. Unfortunately training materials based on best practice do not presently exist and the quality of existing materials cannot always be assured. Through the LAC project and its products trainers will be in a better position to deliver cost effective quality trainings.
Almost all humanitarian organisations provide social support of some kind through lay counselling. However training lay counsellors is often a challenge, as no generic material exists for this purpose. This means that trainers often develop their own training materials specific to their own context with little awareness of best practice across the field of lay counselling. Efforts are duplicated and opportunities are missed to share learning.
There is also evidence that there is increasing use of volunteers in bridging social gaps in many European countries (see http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/mental/docs/pact_en.pdf). Lay counselling is a common method preparing volunteers for offering psychosocial support to vulnerable people. Providing training of quality is key to the health and welfare both of beneficiaries and the volunteers seeking to support them.
This project targets trainers in humanitarian organisations to further develop their skills and capacity in training staff and volunteers in lay counselling. Through the development of an innovative, generic training material including both guidelines for trainers and guidelines for information components training staff will be enabled to cascade the skills of lay counselling through their respective organisations. As a result both trainers and trainees will gain new vocational skills that can be used to support people in vulnerable situations and for the wider labour market.
The project has aimed to look at current practice in lay counselling and, together with a literature review, identified examples of best practice in the field. The learning needs of trainers were also included in this review. This process formed the basis for the production of a generic training material which was pilot tested and evaluated before dissemination. The training material is available in English, French, German and Danish.
The consortium responsible for the project - the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support at the Danish Red Cross, War Trauma Foundation, the Danish Cancer Society and the University of Innsbruck - has expertise in the field of lay counselling in a wide range of settings, including direct service provision, research and evaluation, volunteer recruitment and support, training and knowledge transfer. They have strong European networks and regularly disseminate their work through direct training, the production of materials and publications for beneficiaries, practitioners and academics.
Through this project, trainers in humanitarian organisations all over Europe will have access to new training resources, grounded in sound research methods identifying current best practice. This will allow staff and volunteers to provide lay counselling of high quality to people in vulnerable situations.
Description The LAC project has been carried out by the IFRC Psychosocial Centre (Denmark), University of Innsbruck (Austria), Danish Cancer Society (Denmark) and War Trauma Foundation (Netherlands). The project has consisted of 6 work packages: 1) Management 2) Literature Review 3) Best Practices 4) Production 5) Pilot phase and 6) Dissemination. The literature review has ensured that the final product has been developed on a sound scientific basis covering relevant materials and resources in the field. In the best practices analysis experiences from end-users in the field of psychosocial lay counselling were collected and used to inform the content of the material. The draft material was pilot tested in the 3 consortium countries and amended accordingly. The final product is the manual ‘Lay counselling: A Trainer’s Manual’ which outlines a two-day training curriculum and consists of a variety of didactic methods. Specific themes covered are referrals and reporting, supportive communication, assisting decision-making, structure of a counselling conversation, life events, stress and coping, psychological first aid and self-care. The manual is supplemented by a powerpoint presentation, handouts and additional activities and the total material developed therefore provides the neccessary tools for conducting a two day training in lay counselling. The materials are available in English, Danish, German and French and can all be accessed online on the IFRC Psychosocial Centre webpage www.pscentre.org.
Utilization and distribution of results
Human Health and Social Work Activities
Other Service Activities
Activities of Extraterritorial Organisations and Bodies
Product information The manual developed will equip trainers who train the lay-counsellors and aims to give participants an understanding of what lay counselling is and the skills required. It sets out the role and responsibilities of lay counsellors and the organisation within which they work. The manual outlines a two-day training curriculum and consists of a variety of didactic methods. Specific themes covered are referrals and reporting, supportive communication, assisting decision-making, structure of a counselling conversation, life events, stress and coping, psychological first aid and self-care. The manual is supplemented by a powerpoint presentation, handouts and additional activities and the total material developed therefore provides the neccessary tools for conducting a two day training in lay counselling. The curriculum has a generic structure which should be adapted to each specific context and it can be integrated as a supplement to existing trainings, or implemented as an independent training for lay counsellors within a wide variety of settings.