Lay counselling in humanitarian organisations: a field report on developing training materials for lay counsellors

Juen, B., Siller, H., Lindenthal, M., Snider, L., Nielsen, M., Muff, M. L., & Wiedemann, N. (2013). Lay counselling in humanitarian organisations: a field report on developing training materials for lay counsellors. Intervention, 11(1 Special Anniversary Issue: Part 2), 77-88.

Lay counsellors provide valuable psychosocial support in many different circumstances, such as manning telephone helplines for cancer patients, assisting people after crisis events or giving focused support to refugees or other vulnerable groups. This paper describes the process that a consortium of four humanitarian organisations followed to develop a training guide for lay counsellors as it was found that no common training curriculum existed. The process was comprised of the following steps: 1) review of existing literature on lay counselling; 2) a mapping report to identify organisations and existing materials available on trainings for lay counsellors; 3) a needs assessment to identify the needs of trainers; 4) development of first drafts of the training material; 5) pilot trainings to gain further understanding of needs and expectations of participants and trainers from different organisational contexts; and 6) adaptation of the training materials based on pilot trainings. The final materials consist of a variety of didactic methods and allow integration of materials as a supplement to existing trainings, or for use as independent training for lay counsellors, within a wide variety of settings.

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