SPC Sends Students Internationally to Build Healthy Communities
December 8, 2009
by Sarah H. Dolan
Many Americans are familiar with conflict management counseling, yet many countries have limited access to these services that are foundational to healthy communities. Since 2002, Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC) has partnered with the nonprofit organization Global Mosaic International (GMI), sending students to remote areas around the world to train leaders with specialized counseling skills.
The most recent trip took place during Regent's 2009 fall break. Four SPC faculty and 12 students partnered with GMI to travel to Kingston, Jamaica, to teach counseling and divinity students at the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology on the topics of trauma, grief, substance abuse, sexual abuse and marital counseling.
"There is such a growing need around the world for this kind of training," said SPC Adjunct Professor Dr. Evelyn Biles, founder and president of GMI. "We train community leaders to teach their people various skills. Many of the leaders have approached me to ask the same question: 'Why has no one before told us how to handle conflict?' They are thrilled, and that is what keeps us going."
GMI offers training in the areas of counseling, conflict resolution, mentoring and servant leadership. Regent students who participate in courses that partner with GMI for trips can earn three credit hours toward their degrees. Over the years, Regent students, faculty and alumni have traveled with GMI to eight countries in Africa, several areas of India and many other nations including Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei.
"Global means that we are willing to go anywhere," explained Biles. "Mosaic symbolizes our truly melded team, who are not only from the U.S., but also from our neighboring countries." Translators join teams on each trip to clearly communicate the message.
In Jamaica, the team had an opportunity to talk about developing positive self-esteem with sixth-graders at a middle school. "Several of these children experienced some kind of trauma that affected their image," said SPC Assistant Professor Dr. Vickey Maclin. "It was nice to infuse a small amount of hope, encouragement and love into their lives."
Though Biles emphasizes that the teams rarely use the same agenda twice, catering to the unique needs of each area, she often is able to relate her personal testimony to connect with emotionally disturbed children. She and her husband, Stephen, have 30 years of experience raising their seven adopted special-needs children, all of various backgrounds, abilities and ethnic origins.
Regent's SPC faculty members continue to develop a curriculum that engages students in understanding multicultural sensitivity in counseling services. From January 7 until the end of March 2010, Biles will be taking students to Malaysia, Indonesia and India, to train leaders in building healthy communities. For more information, contact Biles at firstname.lastname@example.org.