Taking Counseling Skills to Most Vulnerable

Jul. 9, 2014 - by Carol Best

Halfway around the world MNU graduate students apply learning to help others.

By Amy Holmquist ('09)
July 9, 2014
Jump rope

Fourteen graduate counseling students and a professor from Mid America Nazarene University (MNU) sit around a makeshift “campfire” made of flashlights in a small village in Uganda. They share the day’s experiences, processing together the traumatic stories they heard, marveling at God’s blessings that they experience in the profession of counseling. They feel honored that so many are willing to share.

Students in the capstone class in the Master of Arts in Counseling program at MNU journeyed to northern Uganda in June to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” by teaching others about counseling for two weeks. As part of their final requirements for graduation, students put into practice what they have learned in the classroom, applying it in real life to what can only be called a mission field.

Led by Professor of Counseling Tricia Brown, PhD, they visited various churches and orphanages where they taught church leaders, seminary students, and the women (called mamas) who staff the local orphanages, teaching them how to counsel those who have suffered through traumatic situations. Also accompanied by Marsha Campbell of Global Orphan Project in Kansas, the students met many individuals who devote their time to help the “most vulnerable” children.

“The purpose of the capstone class is to give students the opportunity to present what they’ve learned to people outside of the university,” Dr. Brown explained, “This trip was an opportunity for the students to pull together what they’ve learned about counseling and advocacy, mental health, and families, and offer something back.”

The group teamed up with the project Go Africa, a part of the Global Orphan Project, whose goal is to support African churches with their work in orphanages, regardless of the circumstances of war or turbulent times.

“That is what appealed to me about this organization. Their philosophy is they don’t pull out when times get bad. They are still there because the churches are still there, the churches are permanent,” Dr. Brown noted.

MAC-Uganda-Trip-June-2014MNU group with women in Gulu, Uganda who survived and escaped from the Lord's Resistance Army, an extremist group. These women meet to support each other and rebuild their lives after years of captivity. They spent time with the MNU group and performed their story of freedom through dance.

The group traveled to the villages of Gulu and Lira holding workshops with educators, clergy, seminary students, and the mamas. The goal was to educate the locals’ on basic listening skills. In the Ugandan culture, people give and seek advice, but effective listening does not come naturally. Help was requested by an official in the Anglican Church of Uganda to train these individuals how to assist their fellow Ugandans who are victims of civil war and a myriad of traumatic experiences.

Workshops focused on active listening, and included practice sessions with participants. After a session in the village of Lira, graduate student Kim Farag observed two participants practice the skills they had just learned from the graduate students. Farag says she saw first-hand how valuable the training is for the Ugandans.

“It was at that moment I knew why we had left our friends and family for two weeks to travel half way across the globe. I realized we went to Uganda to give them a gift of learning how to help each other heal from the trauma of civil war.  We taught them some skills on how to deal with their own pain and how to listen to each other,” Farag commented, “I feel so blessed that the Lord allowed me to see a glimpse of a gift that we had shared before we left to come home.”

Many workshop participants had experienced trauma of their own. They needed to learn breathing techniques to calm them and how to deal with the moments when they are flooded with traumatic memories. Those skills were just as important as learning how to comfort someone else.

“They just wanted some help understanding what kinds of things they were seeing and what they could do to make outcomes the best for the vulnerable children and for the mamas,” Dr. Brown pointed out.

During part of the trip, students met women who had escaped from the resistance army. Hearing how these women survived and how they were trying to make a better life had a great impact on the graduate students.

“As I have reflected on this trip and how it will affect my counseling relationship with my clients, the best word I can come up with is faith,” Farag remarked. “Time and time again we heard stories of horrible trauma that affected these people, and the mind just begins to reel and ask God why he would allow something like this to happen, but then I remembered that he did not abandon these people. He held them through all of it.”

MAC Uganda Trip TBrown June 2014Dr. Tricia Brown holds a baby after a church service in Lira, Uganda.

The group returned to Kansas City, full of hope and encouragement for their future careers as counselors; along with the satisfaction that they were able to use their education in service to the Ugandans.

“It was an enriching opportunity. I hope we were as much of a blessing to them as they were to us,” Dr. Brown said.

 

MNU News

Tuesday, June 30
Recent News
List
Grid
Archives
MNU-Fiber-Optics-Groundbreaking-062015
New Fiber Ring Installation Upgrades Campus

New Fiber Ring Installation Upgrades Campus

Installation is well underway for the new fiber optic network on the Olathe campus. Pictured below MNU President David Spittal and K&W…

Read More
UO8A0594
Football Coach discovers joy of teaching

Football Coach discovers joy of teaching

“Salt and light is all you can be at the end of the day,” said Ashford Collins (’12) as he sat in the same cafeteria where he used to share meals with his teammates. “When I came to MNU, I…

Read More
Annie Kee
Alum Wins Stewardship Scholarship

Alum Wins Stewardship Scholarship

Andra Kee (‘13) is one of three winners of the Stewardship Sermon Scholarship awarded by Stewardship Ministries of the Church of the Nazarene. Funds for this scholarship are awarded annually to up…

Read More
outcomes-11
Compassion for Animals Leads to Career

Compassion for Animals Leads to Career

It didn’t take holding down a lioness during surgery for Lisa Najarian ('07), biology major, to be affirmed in her calling.  Usually it comes just seeing a four legged passenger with its head…

Read More
Facebook Infographic v3
MNU Announces Fully Online MBA

MNU Announces Fully Online MBA

New this fall at MNU is a fully online MBA program. The university has offered an MBA program for nearly 30 years, but until now all classes were held on site in Olathe or Liberty. Now students who…

Read More
Brandt Drafted
Brandt Drafted by Washington Nationals

Brandt Drafted by Washington Nationals

By Chad Jenkins, MNU SID Fans react on Storify hereMNU senior shortstop Clayton Brandt completed his incredible final season by getting selected in the 19th round by the Washington…

Read More
Jenkins Named HAAC SID of the Year

Jenkins Named HAAC SID of the Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Heart of America Athletic Conference has announced that Chad Jenkins, sports information director at MidAmerica Nazarene University, has been named the 2nd Annual Dave…

Read More
Hunting1sm
Success Means Doing One's Best

Success Means Doing One's Best

As a third grader, Stephen Hunting, considered a career as a lawyer.  But it took a year of seminary after graduating from MNU as a religion major, to realize law school was where God was…

Read More
Cube
Unconference for Educators June 3 and 4

Unconference for Educators June 3 and 4

MNU’s School of Education is hosting an Unconference June 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Bell Cultural Events Center on the Olathe campus. Part of the summer workshops and institutes program,…

Read More
Sports
Brittney Kellar Promoted to Assistant AD

Brittney Kellar Promoted to Assistant AD

Brittney Kellar has been promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Business, Marketing and Event Management...(click title for more)

 
MNU Women's Soccer Hires Bobby Reiss

MNU Women's Soccer Hires Bobby Reiss

MNU Women's soccer would like to say welcome to new assistant coach Bobby Reiss who will be taking over the assistant coaching duties...(click title for more)

 
Washington Nationals Draft Clayton Brandt in 19th Round

Washington Nationals Draft Clayton Brandt in 19th Round

MNU senior shortstop Clayton Brandt completed his incredible final season by getting selected in the 19th round by the Washington Nationals in the MLB draft on Wednesday...(click title for more)

 
Latest Photos
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas
Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Chartering, 2014 MidAmerica Nazarene University’s School of Nursing and Health Science was recently approved to form a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the honor society of nursing. Founded in 1922, STTI is recognized as the only international nursing honor society with approximately 500 chapters across the globe, only 5 of which are in Kansas. Photos by Daniel Hawkins and Justin Vargas