International Educator - November/December 2014 - 14

"When students have free time, I send
them out in pairs and ask them to talk with
people on the street. Engage in
conversation for at least half an hour.
Getting out of your comfort zones is
really important as a counselor. This is
what it's like as a counselor talking to
people you've never met before."
globalization, and their impact on mental health...How do
we look at an individual in their social context? We need
to understand what fishbowl we are living in and how
that fishbowl plays a huge part in resiliency and perception." While traveling to South Africa, Moore's students
compare the different ways people address historical
trauma-apartheid in South Africa, slavery in the United
States-and how that broader understanding might inform the way they work with African American clients
and communities. "What does another country do that
we can learn from?" asks Moore. "Take that knowledge
back to the communities where you work."
The Adler School is also organizing a five-week summer program with UNIBE, Universidad de Iberoamérica,
in Costa Rica for 2015. At least a dozen third- or fourthyear doctoral students are expected to participate in the
cultural immersion, mental health shadowing experience.
The shadowing will involve mental health professionals
in a counseling center, regional hospital, private practice,
and community-based health centers. In all cases, clients
are to be notified that observers are on site. The ultimate
14  

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR N O V + D E C .14

goal, says Cecil Thomas, Adler's director of global affairs,
is enabling students to "take that cultural awareness and
use it to work with different populations in a place like
Chicago." Seeking to give Adler School graduates a competitive advantage in the workplace, Thomas says newly
trained counselors must be "nimble enough to work with
different populations in a culturally competent manner
and also have a better understanding of their own individual identity."
Building self-awareness is a critical element to foreign
travel, especially for young people who will be working
professionally to expand that awareness in others. "Students learn they have to roll with the punches, which is
what we have to teach our clients: there is parallel learning here," says Stetson's Meghan Walter. Brigid Noonan,
chair of Stetson's Department of Counselor Education,
tells potential travelers, "I am not here to change your
value system, but to help you put on different pairs of
glasses to help you see the world that your client is viewing." Stetson has engaged students in international travel
since 2003, visiting England, France, Italy, Russia, and
Greece. With few electives and many licensing requirements, travel must typically be scheduled during a break
or incorporated into a credit-bearing course.
Noonan says she has many more personal connections
in Europe than in Africa, so she is now working with the
Global Engagement Institute to take Stetson students on
a week-long program called "Mental Health in Botswana." Second-year master's students will visit a psychiatric
hospital, a youth health organization, the Botswana Red
Cross, and the Botswana Center for Human Rights. Stetson faculty will accompany the group of 15-20 students
and create assignments for individual students based on
their specific area of study.
Noonan's assignments often have an air of profound
whimsy. "When students have free time, I send them out
in pairs and ask them to talk with people on the street. Engage in conversation for at least half an hour. Getting out
of your comfort zones is really important as a counselor.
This is what it's like as a counselor talking to people you've
never met before." Which is precisely what one student
discovered after telling Noonan he initially thought the
assignment was bogus, "but this gentleman just wanted to
talk about his life in Rome. I could see how this conversation would be like sitting across from a client saying, 'what
brings you here today?'" The student noted that the man's
English wasn't that great, but "I enjoyed just sitting and listening to him." Noonan added that students are not there
to "fix problems, but to listen and experience what your
client's experiences are from an empathic standpoint."

THINKSTOCK

Those who lead international programs in mental health
emphasize the critical importance of preparation. Professor
Nataka Moore at Adler School of Professional Psychology
in Chicago teaches students about the importance of entering foreign communities with respect, being aware of
how they are perceived, and mindful of the consequences
of their actions. In the essays she requires before students
travel, she looks for students writing about what they need
to learn rather than how they want to help.
Moore brings global concepts into her cognitive therapy class whether or not students will be traveling overseas.
"The conversation that is missing from psychology programs," says Moore, "is a discussion of human rights and



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