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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 77-88

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

1 professor in psychology at the Department of Psychology at the University, of Innsbruck (Austria). She has been working in the field of psychotraumatology for more than 10 years. She works with the Red Cross and has developed training materials for the Austrian Red Cross, psychosocial programmes in crisis intervention, telephone counselling and staff support
2 psychology at University of Innsbruck. She has been doing research and training in the field of psychotraumatology. Her special field is gender and trauma. She is working at the University of Innsbruck and the Medical University of Innsbruck
3 psychology at University of Innsbruck. He has been doing research and training in the field of psychotraumatology. His special field is terrorism and natural disasters
4 psychiatrist with international experience in psychosocial programmes, evaluation and research in difficult circumstances. She is currently head of programmes for War Trauma Foundation (the Netherlands)
5 consultant of voluntary patient support at the Danish Cancer Society (Denmark)
6 Capacity and Organizational Development Consultant at the Danish Cancer Society (Denmark)
7 director of the Psychosocial Centre at the Danish Red Cross (Denmark). She is a psychologist working in humanitarian organisations, training staff and volunteers, developing training materials in psychological support, victim support and disaster mental health

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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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