Humanitarian work & psychology

 Find information on combining an interest in psychology, community development, and humanitarian aid.

**

People who want to combine their interests in community development and psychology sometimes write and ask me how I began doing this work and if I have any tips on how they can get started in this field. A typical query looks something like this:

“I have always hoped to find a way to combine my passion for community development work and psychology. I was wondering if would be able to tell me what your pathway was getting into the work you have done, and whether you have any contacts or suggestions of ways I might be able to gain an internship next year?”

If you have a question along those lines, check out the following pages:

 

1.     Finding a job in humanitarian and development work

2.     Information on stress, trauma, resilience, staff care, psychosocial support and humanitarian work

3.     The story of how I ended up specializing in stress, trauma, resilience and humanitarian work

 

From the blog: Posts on humanitarian work

Resilience Research Report – The Executive Summary

Posted by on Mar 29, 2011 in Humanitarian work, Psychology | 5 comments

Resilience Research Report – The Executive Summary

Here is the Executive Summary of the Report I introduced yesterday: Building resilient managers in humanitarian organizations (plus some photos from Cambodia, just because). The research report is available for purchase from the People In Aid website. Background, and purpose of the research In the last decade there has been increasing interest in the level of stress, trauma, or violence experienced by humanitarian workers, but relatively little focus on the other side of the coin – qualities that promote resilience and thriving in these...

read more

Resilience Research Report – The Introduction

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in Humanitarian work, Psychology | 6 comments

Resilience Research Report – The Introduction

Resilience is a defining theme of my life at present – last week’s chapter for the distance learning course I’m writing was on personal resilience and this week’s is on organizational resilience. In April, I’ll travel to Bangkok to spend a week working with the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma as they bring together journalists from around Asia for a week. Guess what I’ll be speaking on… Yup, resilience. And back in November I completed a research report for a very cool organization in London, People In Aid, on Building...

read more

Lessons learned about Laos, parenting, and development work, in Phonxai

Posted by on Feb 23, 2011 in Humanitarian work, Life in Laos, Posts with photos | 5 comments

Lessons learned about Laos, parenting, and development work, in Phonxai

On Monday, Mike and I plus the friends we have in town at the moment (Mum, Dad, and three little boys aged six, three, and 8 months) traveled up to Phonxai so that Mike could inspect a school in progress. This was an all day endeavor that involved renting a landrover and spending more than six hours traveling – about five of them on dirt roads. As always when I travel up to the villages here in Laos, it was illuminating. In no particular order, here is a summary of things I learned or relearned on Monday. 1. Northern Laos is lush with...

read more

When the professional meets the social in Laos

Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 in Humanitarian work, Life in Laos, Posts with photos | 0 comments

When the professional meets the social in Laos

Two weekends ago Mike was invited to a wedding. This is not an uncommon occurrence – it’s Lao custom to invite everyone and their cousin to your wedding. Then, it seems, everyone you’ve invited is allowed to ask you to invite other people as well, and you can’t refuse their requests. This is why weddings here can easily run to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of guests, and why Mike and I regularly get invited to attend the weddings of people we’ve never met. Until this weekend we’d managed to wiggle out of all of these invitations...

read more

We, the beneficiaries of admin costs, thank you

Posted by on Oct 25, 2010 in Humanitarian work | 6 comments

We, the beneficiaries of admin costs, thank you

I am sitting in Bangkok airport in a recliner. Yes, recliner – Bangkok airport has a bank of them right near gate C2, surrounded by pots of orchids. Mike is stretched out next to me, dozing. It’s 10:30 in the morning and we’re both yawning our heads off. We’ve done an awful lot of sitting around this week, so I feel a bit silly about being quite so tired. But, then again, even the best hospitals are not entirely relaxing places to hang out. We may not have gotten quite as much sleep as we’d like this week, but we did get good medical...

read more

When Helping is Hard (Part 4): Money, It’s Complicated

Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 in Humanitarian work | 6 comments

When Helping is Hard (Part 4): Money, It’s Complicated

It was about a month after we returned from Viengkham that Mike received his first phone call about the case of Lahela, little orphan girl. You can read the start of this story in the post titled: What price a child’s life? After eight days in the hospital in Vientiane, no one seemed to be all that much closer to figuring out for sure what might be wrong with eleven-year-old Lahela. All the tests had come back negative, but the doctors had now circled back around to thinking that she might have Japanese encephalitis, after all. All...

read more

When Helping is Hard (Part 3): Score One For Policy

Posted by on Oct 8, 2010 in Humanitarian work | 2 comments

When Helping is Hard (Part 3): Score One For Policy

[Follow these links for Part 1 and Part 2 of this story] After we left Sommai’s village it was a long and bumpy car ride back to Luang Prabang. As I braced myself against the potholes I stared at the dozens of white cotton strings swathing my wrists – remnants of the blessings that had been bestowed upon all of us earlier in the day. The national staff who had traveled out with us all had strings around their wrists too, I noticed, but not nearly as many as I did, or Mike. It seemed a fitting metaphor for the day, for our entire life here:...

read more

When Helping is Hard (Part 2): In The Village

Posted by on Oct 1, 2010 in Humanitarian work | 6 comments

When Helping is Hard (Part 2): In The Village

Three weeks after I arrived in Laos I went with Mike out to a village in Viengkham district. This trip was my introduction to The Hungry Months and The Blessings of the Bai Si. It was also my introduction to Sommai – for Mike and I detoured from the planned schedule just a little. It was Mike who made the connection, and he came home the night before our trip excited. “Guess what!” he said, sounding like he had perhaps won two tickets to Disneyland. “What?” I asked, wary. “Sommai’s village is close to the village we’ll be in on...

read more

When Helping is Hard (Part 1): That sort of decision

Posted by on Sep 29, 2010 in Humanitarian work | 4 comments

When Helping is Hard (Part 1): That sort of decision

This story starts in May. In May, Mike was in Laos in the middle of his first seven weeks at his new job. I was in LA wrapping up my own job. Mike was trying to find his feet in a new place and in a new life. I was trying to disengage from familiar people and a familiar life. We were in very different places – not just physically – and as we spent my evenings and Mike’s early mornings talking via skype, I frequently found myself feeling torn. I did want to hear the honest truth about how things were in Laos and try to support Mike...

read more

Humanitarian work, psychology, and staff support

Posted by on Sep 27, 2010 in Humanitarian work, Psychology | 6 comments

Humanitarian work, psychology, and staff support

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend (and spent less time at the computer than Mike and I did). Never mind – this time next week we’ll be in Cambodia at Siem Reap. Primarily because there are no good medical or dental facilities in Luang Prabang, Mike’s organization provides for one week of Rest and Relaxation (R&R) leave every six months. Thankfully, we don’t need to use this R&R to head to a doctor or a dentist, so we are going to explore one of the wonders of Asia instead. There are even rumors that Mike will not...

read more