Tuesday 15 January 2008

The Pearls and the Perils

Here is an excerpt from a presentation we do.
The Pearls and the Perils:
Reflections on Being Psychologists in Mission/Aid
For the last 20+ years, we have lived in five countries, and consulted with workers/agencies (faith-based and secular) in some 40 countries. Together with trusted colleagues, we continue to grow, struggle, and learn new things as we practice psychology internationally. In particular, we have had to carefully navigate tricky, overlapping issues that involve relationships, pathology, spiritual darkness, and organisational politics. We were not always adequately prepared to deal with such sobering, and at times debilitating issues. Like our mission/aid clients, some of our greatest challenges have been to maintain joy in spite of a sense of helplessness and injustice, and unresolved misunderstandings.
We have found that professional competence requires honing both our “contextual” skills and our psychological skills. In other words, practitioners need to understand and manage the multi-faceted settings (contexts) in which they provide their services. They must intentionally seek out collegial wisdom and support, plus develop their relational savvy, organizational expertise, and spiritual discernment in order to “do member care well”. And in some cases, especially involving the pernicious perils of systemic dysfunction and spiritual darkness, these seemingly ancillary skills are essential in order to simply survive!
Member care is founded upon the Biblical command to love one another (John 13:34,35). This commitment to love one another is tested in many ways, individually and collectively, and often in the “furnace of humiliation”. Our love for the Lord (the Pearl of Great Price) is also tested, being refined by the many challenges (the perils) that we all face. In this presentation we review some of the main challenges that have confronted us personally and professionally. Our character and competence, like pearls in an oyster sell, continue to be developed.
Reflection and Discussion
**Comment on the need to continually develop both psychological skills and contextual skills.
**Comment on the need to carefully navigate both systemic dysfunction and spiritual darkness.

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