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close this bookPersonal Safety in Cross-Cultural Transition (Peace Corps)
close this folderUnit three: Volunteer workshop on handling difficult situations and peer counseling
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Part two


1a. Introduce this part by mentioning that all of us may experience some type of victimization. Some of us may already have experienced it. Our reactions will depend on our personal styles of dealing with problems. However, there is some research that shows common reactions to victimization.

[10 min]

1b. Divide participants into two groups and give each group a different case study. Handouts 5 and 6.

1c. Have the groups read the case and list their reactions to the situations. How would they feel if they were Jack or Amy?

1d. Compare the similarities and differences, recognizing the similarities even though the situations are different.

[10 min]

Stress that it is important to recognize that someone's reaction to a situation of verbal assault may be similar to someone's reaction to a rape. When providing support it is important not to negate a reaction by saying, "Well, that isn't so serious, it could have been worse".

1e. Distribute Handout 7, "Common Reactions to Assault.. Point out the similarities.

[10 min]

1f. Explain that regardless of the problem, people need to talk to someone who can understand and help them sort out feelings, problems, and options.

Discuss the idea that just because someone wants to be of help doesn't mean they are helpful -- it takes more than just talking.

Peer Counseling

2a. Ask what comes to mind when you mention peer counseling. Take some responses make sure that participants understand the difference between peer counseling and therapy. They will not be doing therapy; they are equals and helpers but not trained therapists.

[5 min]

2b. Explain that peer counseling is a way of helping a friend, by using specific skills and techniques. It is not a mutual gripe session and it is not a time to tell your story.

2c. Peer counseling operates from the premise that the person seeking help has answers to their own problem, they just need to talk to someone who can help them discover those answers.

[10 min]

It uses techniques which help the person state the problem; clarify their feelings; identify what they think about the problem; look at their options; decide on some plan of action.

Components of a Helping Relationship

TRAINERS' NOTE: If you are not experienced with this material, enlist the assistance of someone who is. There are suggested articles to read as background materials; use them to draw out the following discussion points.

3a. Ask the group to explain the characteristics of a helping relationship.

[5 min]

- positive regard
- respect
- trust
- warmth and caring (not "taking care of")
- absence of judgement

3b. There is more to a helping relationship than just these components. There is a process which makes it easier for the one being helped to solve his/her problem.

The Awareness Wheel

4a. Use the awareness wheel (handout 8) as a process for structuring and helping the helpee. (Put information on flipchart and use in discussing the awareness wheel. )

TRAINERS' NOTE: The awareness wheel is a communication tool which shows complete communication; it is useful in demonstrating a problem-solving process. If you are not familiar with this tool or for other reasons wish to, you can use another problem-solving tool with which you are familiar. The purpose is to help someone through the complete cycle, looking at what the situation is (SENSING), what they think about the situation (THINKING), what they feel about it (FEELINGS), their intentions for the situation or what they would ideally want (WANTINGS), and finally what they plan to do (DOINGS).

4b. Stress that although they are helping someone through this process they are:

[5 min]

- not to lead them to a predecided conclusion - a person must reach his/her own conclusions.
- not to rush someone through the cycle each person should progress at his/her own pace. Some people have the tendency to jump to a plan of action without going through the other steps. They should be encouraged to complete all the steps

4c. Distribute handout 8. Ask for any questions.

Skills for Helping

5a. Explain that there are skills both verbal and non-verbal which one uses to help another person.

5b. Conduct a brief demonstration of one helping relationship in which the helper is anything but helpful. You (the trainer) should play the helper.

[5 min]

TRAINERS' NOTE: Things to do in this demonstration are: show body language which communicates disinterest, distracting mannerisms, tone of voice which is impatient, inattentive eye contact. Show verbal behavior which interrupts the helpee, negates the helpee's feelings and situation, gives quick advice, adds your own irrelevant story.

5b. Ask the participants to identify what you did verbally and non-verbally to detract from the helping relationship.

[5 min]

5c. Conduct another demonstration, but this time demonstrate all of the correct behaviors.

[5 min]

Sample Behaviors
Affirmative head nod
Facial expressions of interest/concern
Spontaneous eye contact
Physical contact
Leaning toward someone
I see, tell me more"
"I'd like to hear about it.
What do you think?.
Have you thought about.... "
How are you feeling about it now?.

5d. Summarize by mentioning things to avoid:

[5 min]






Topping their story



Practice in Peer Counseling

[30-40 min]

6a. Explain that these skills are developed; they don't come over night. Ask participants to divide into groups of three a helper, a helpee, and an observer.

6b. Distribute handout 9, "Helping Skills, and explain that each person will be playing all three positions during this practice time. When they are helping they should try to remember the behaviors discussed. When they are observing they should note what behaviors are displayed and provide suggestions and criticism of their helping behaviors.

Stress that when they are playing the helpee, they should pick problems that are real. That way they will have more information upon which to draw during the role play.

Allow 10 minutes for each person to role play and receive feedback.

6c. After they have completed this activity ask them what was most difficult for them in each role, and what was easy in each role.

[10 min]

6d. Summarize by reminding participants that these skills require practice. Encourage them to read more in this area and to talk about it when they get together.

6e. Bridge to Part Three of the workshop by mentioning that they have reviewed a lot during this workshop. Combine this with their vast experience and they have much to offer new Volunteers. Part Three will give them an opportunity to channel some of this experience into useful information for incoming Volunteers.