Virtual training on Psychosocial Counselling – Aug 20 & 22, 2020

Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC) conducted a two-day long virtual training on psychosocial counselling on August 20 and 22 2020 to build the capacity of staff and board members strengthening internal governance. The training took place on Google Meet and led by a senior psychologist, Karuna Kunwar. The training session was conducted virtually as the government enforced the curfew to hold the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

The virtual training had the following objectives: –

  • to understand the psychosocial issues and problem in migrants,
  • to develop communication skills, focusing on listening,
  • to acquire basic skills of psychosocial counselling,
  • to apply basic techniques to deal with the trauma of migrants, and
  • to take care of self and to maintain the limitation.

Participants

The virtual training had a total of 20 trainees. The virtual participants included of staffs and board members. The participants in the training comprised shelter staffs, program staffs, rescue officers, outreach coordinators, admin and finance staffs, chairperson, general secretary, and secretary of the executive committee.

Biograph – Resource Person: Mrs. Karuna Kunwar (trainer)

Mrs. Karuna Kunwar is a UN-CISU certified external stress counsellor and senior psychologist. She is an empathetic, analytical and motivated professional with a practical approach to psychosocial well-being, who always perseveres to achieve the best possible results for the clients. Overall, she has 16 years of professional experience working as a counsellor and a psychologist in Nepal. She holds a master degree in clinical psychology from Tribhuwan University Nepal. She is also a writer and researcher in the field of psychosocial science.

Training Contents and outcomes

The first day of the training was more on Theoretical Perspective on Psychosocial. Trainer highlighted the importance of having a training session not only to deal with migrant’s cases but also to have clarity upon oneself. The session focused both on personal and professional wellbeing.

Psychosocial means interaction/connection between psychological and social factors while psycho-social problem means issues rose due to disassociate of psychological and social factors.

Psychologist Kunwar suggested building trust and respect before entering into any received case.

Psychologist Kunwar helped to explain the psychological and social components. Body, mind and soul which make up a human are interrelated with so many other components like family, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, religion, value, tradition, culture, language, nature, animals, plants, etc. After illustrating the components affecting the human body, Kunwar shared about symptoms and effects of psycho-social problems.

There are several signs and symptoms of psycho-social problems. Signs and symptoms are classified under four headings namely behavioral, body, social relation and thinking perspectives.

Kunwar moved ahead showing a YouTube video on depression. The video named I had a black dog, his name was depression showed the signs of depression a person goes through. In the meantime, Kunwar explained various ways from which we could cope up with depression. Some ways from which we can cope with depression are medicine, enough rest, meditation and regular physical exercise. Kunwar said that depression arises when a person continuously thinks negatively for more than two-week frame. She also added that anyone could recover from depression within two weeks if proper guidance and awareness is received.

The difference between depression and anxiety was highlighted after the completion of the video. Kunwar shared that often people get confused with anxiety and depression. “Most people with anxiety think that they are suffering from depression” shared Psychologist Kunwar.

The next session was about a small task named HERE & NOW. During the task, all the participants were asked to follow instructions given by Psychologist Kunwar.

The task included;

  1. 3 times asking about things seen around
  2. 2 times asking about things heard around
  3. 1 time asking about the smell of
  4. 2 times asking about things seen around
  5. 1 time asking about thing heard around
  6. Asking the present date, current approximate time

This task made the participants realize that everything is temporary. They do not last long and the only important thing is present, not the past not the future. After learning about depression and anxiety, Kunwar moved ahead with Psychosis. She explained Psychosis is a condition that affects the way our brain processes information. Kunwar added that people with psychosis see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real. 

She further shared about trauma and grief. She shared trauma is the response to any deep distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. “Many migrant workers might have gone through such traumatic experiences for which they should be dealt accordingly” requested Kunwar. Likewise, Kunwar shared about grief that it is the acute pain that accompanies loss. When a loved or a near one dies, one goes through grief. A person goes through various steps while dealing with grief. Support is the most important thing to deal with people going through trauma and grief, Kunwar suggested.

The day II – Skills Illustration and Role Play

The second day of the training began with experience sharing of the gap day. Psychologist Kunwar urged each participant to briefly share their feelings, learning and experience after completing the first session of the training.

Psychologist Kunwar said that sometimes people go through psychosis. It is very important to agree with the clients’ statements when they are suffering from psychosis, Kunwar suggested. Kunwar also requested to ask to suppose questions when we meet some people with the mentality of committing suicide. “When we keep on asking them with supposing questions, they try to gather information deeply from their mind and they can change their thinking and after which we can refer them to a psychiatrist,” Kunwar said.

In the meantime, Kunwar asked one of the participants to play the role of a person who is thinking to commit suicide to clear and work out on suppose question trick.

Several suppose questions like What will you do after you die? What will you do if your sense doubles up after you die? What do you think about your family doing after your death? Do you think your problems go away after you die? were asked during the trick session.

The session moved ahead with learning communication skills while dealing cases. The first part of the communication skill was about listening and active listening. Case officers should actively listen to the client’s issues when they first come seeking necessary help. 

To clarify about the active listening, a YouTube video, It’s Not About The Nail was shown where a girl is trying to consult with a boy about her problem. The girl is urging the boy to listen to her problem while the boy is trying to say here that she has some other problem deep inside. But in a moment, the boy agrees with a girl and tries to listen to her. When a boy listens to her, a girl feels much comfortable. Linking this video, Kunwar asked all the participants to actively listen to the problems our clients share.

The second part of the communication skills was validating, validating means not to completely agree with whatever clients say, but to feel from their perspective. Agreeing them that they are suffering from that problem and giving them a sense of togetherness means validating, Kunwar added. Kunwar moved ahead clearing empathy and sympathy with clients. She suggested dealing empathetically with clients. We should always try to connect with clients, Kunwar said. Rather than comparing their problem with other people’s problem, they should be dealt with individually with utmost importance, she suggested.

Kunwar highlighted two main components of validation as;

-It identifies a specific emotion,

-It offers justification for feeling that emotion.

She suggested saying like, “Your feelings matter. It is OK to feel that way. It is normal to feel that way” while we first listen to our client.

The third part of the communication skills was about reflection. If the clients feel like crying, let them cry, Kunwar added. Sometimes it can be upsetting but it is more important to think about how you feel so you can help the client in the best way, requested Kunwar.

Likewise, some technical terms like ‘neutrality’ and ‘Spider-man Syndrome’ were made clear by the trainer. According to Kunwar, Neutrality means to stay neutral while working. “At times we tend to take our work so much seriously that we forget other things and dive deeply down on that particular work. We are harming ourselves with the work”, Kunwar said.

 The session was very interactive as Kunwar was giving her examples to clarify some incidents. Towards the ending, Kunwar asked all the participants to write up or speak up any work done within 24 hours along with quality.

Each one shared their action and quality. Kunwar also helped us with some self-care tips like every day routine, eating habits and sleeping habits. She requested each one to follow a proper daily routine to improve self-wellbeing. She also requested to have a feeling of forgiveness which can make us comfortable with a lot of situations. A short reflection session was done before concluding the session. Each participant was thankful with Psychologist Karuna Kunwar for giving her valuable time. Psychologist Kunwar was also thankful with PNCC team for providing the platform and active participation of all the participants.

Major takeaways

  • We should always be working with a sense of trust and respect while dealing with cases.
  • We should follow some self-care tips at times when we are affected by some cases of nature.
  • We should always share our problems openly with close friends to receive necessary support before committing anything ill.
  • There is a lot of difference between anxiety and depression. We should never get confused with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • We should always remember, ‘EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. NOTHING LASTS FOREVER.’
  • We should work empathetically while dealing with cases.
  • We should often practice HERE & NOW, GROUNDING and other self-care tools.

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