Sunday 30 November 2008

Dealing with change

Development is about change. People in development agencies deal with change at many levels – including the personal one. Working in changing settings, meeting different people, eating different food, living far away from what we consider our homes require constant adjustment. This can be stimulating and enjoyable. It may also create tensions, which generate distress, conflicts... and ineffective work. Some humanitarian agencies offer optional counselling to staff in particularly difficult situations – but since it's not mandatory, people hesitate to ask for counselling or mediation.

Development is about people. Social workers in Germany, arguably development workers within their own country, benefit from regular, professionally facilitated team and group supervision. Supervision is used in counselling, psychotherapy (...) as well as many other professions engaged in working with people. It consists of the practitioner meeting regularly with another professional, not necessarily more senior, but normally with training in the skills of supervision, to discuss casework and other professional issues in a structured way. This is often known as clinical or counselling supervision or consultation. The purpose is to assist the practitioner to learn from his or her experience and progress in expertise, as well as to ensure good service to the client (wikipedia). I would be interested to find out if any international humanitarian or development agency has documented any experience with regular supervision – please post a comment (click on COMMENT under this text) if you know of any such examples!

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