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PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM FOR NGO STAFF with Youthreach

The PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILL ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM for NGO staff was conducted in association with Youthreach, from January to June 2006. This ground-breaking program consisted of series of Counseling Workshops for 5-7 counselors and trainers of 5 NGOs, over a period of 6 months, to facilitate a smoother process of dealing with their adolescent beneficiaries and youth. The participating NGOs in this program were Salam Balak Trust, Deepalaya, Hope Foundation, Vidya, Literacy India.

The main objective of  this program was to reduce the drop-out rates of adolescent beneficiaries from the vocational guidance programs  initiated by different NGOs. The further objectives of the Workshops were:

  • To ensure that the trainers (NGO Staff) and counselors within each organisation are able to deal with the developmental and mental health issues of the children under their care.
  • To enhance the trainers’ methods and processes of motivating the youth to continue with their vocation/ education.
  • To be able to understand parental and peer pressures and get to the root of the problems they experience and manage them effectively.
  • To facilitate and inculcate   an understanding of smooth internal commnuication which enhances the trainers’ and counselors’ knowledge of the problem , and hence, a smoother and faster problem solving method.

Clinical Psychologists from Manas Foundation, Ms. Mridula Apte & Ms. Monica Kumar provided the participants training in orientation & need assesment, tempaerament and screening psychological problems in children, reality orientation, self awareness, psychoeducation for families & communitites , organisational issues and communication, stress coping.  Assessment of stress coping and subjective wellbeing of the participants was done before the commencement of the Program, and six months later, when the program culmintaed.

The Psychological Skill Enhancenment Program was evaluated by “Prerna”, a non-profit, voluntary organisation working in the area of youth development, which also undertakes research and documentation of innovative approaches and replicable models, designs and develops manuals.

This program had  significant findings:

  • It was found that the drop-out rates of the adolescent beneficiaries reduced significantly.
  • the participants reported developing counseling skills in themselves, as also the art of case history taking. This helped them better understand the problems faced by their beneficiaries, and the role of family and peers in resolving these problems.
  • The training gave them a better insight into the behavioural problems children suffer from, their causes and the techniques to solve them.
  • There was a gretaer understanding about the importance of vocational training for child and adolescent beneficiaries, how to provide vocational guidance, and goal setting.
  • There was a change in the participants’ personal attitude towards life and they reported a developing a more positive thinking style. Many reported lower leve;ls of stress, and not getting discouraged by their percieved failures and setbacks.
  • The participants reported they could better manage children having problems such as consumption of drugs & alcohol, learning difficulties.

The significance of the project is that the trainers/fieldworkers have stareted paying attention to the problems faced by children and adolescents on an individual basis, rather than treating it as a general problem. They feel more confident about handling challenging issues and more empathic towards the children & adolescents they woek wiuth. They realise that they should have complete and accurate information before discussing any tpoic with their beneficiaries, academic or otherwise. This is crucial to developing a relationship of trust between the trainers/ fieldworkers and the children they interact with. Finally, there was acquisition of good communication skills, leading to improved interaction, rapport building with the community, as also development of listening skills, and patience.

“I have been attending the Manas Counselling sessions for the past six months. The sessions have been of tremendous help and now I am in a better position to understand and counsel students who have problems. I have seen a remarkable change in some of my students both in their behaviour and their studies, especially Lakshmi who has been my case study for this programme.”                      - Participant
  

The results of this study, empirically and personally were very encouraging. With the positive feedback we received from the NGOs and their participants, we have decided to take this endeavour further. We are in the process of  developing Group-Counseling workshops on similar lines. Training the NGO staff in group-counseling will facilitate their reaching out to more adolescent beneficiaries, and enhance a sense of bonding between the young adolescents.

 
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