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It Works In Practice, But Does It Work In Theory? Cross-Cultural Program Development & Service DeliveryCanadian Counselling AssociationMay 20, 2009Saskatoon, SK Barbara Jones, MEd, MA, CCC The Family Psychology Centre Jeff Chang, PhD, R.Psych. Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology, Athabasca University & The Family Psychology Centre
It Works In Practice, But Does It Work In Theory? Cross-Cultural Program Development & Service Delivery • Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates • Our influences and our stories • Some relevant bodies of knowledge • The story, or “How Not to Develop a Tidy, Replicable Program” • What We Learned (and what others could maybe learn)
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates • Funded by Alberta Health Services (the portion formerly known as Alberta Mental Health Board) • One of 30+ school-based “mental health capacity building projects” in Alberta. • All the others have been contracted with school divisions – ours with a partnership of independent schools, a nonprofit (Renfrew Educational Services), and a private practice company (The Family Psychology Centre [FPC]) • Two schools: • Almadina Language Charter Academy: publicly funded ESL school for primarily Muslim students • Calgary Islamic School: private religious school
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates • Both K-9, 1300+ students • Some of the issues… • Service configuration: • 4 FTE bachelors level School Support Counsellors • .6 FTE mental health OT • 1 Masters level Project Coordinator • Services…
Our influences and our stories Barb • 20 years teaching experience (Special Ed/Counsellor) • MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy • Private psychotherapy practice • Project lead for school, non-profit and now this project • French, First Nations and now Muslim diversity experience Jeff • Counselling psychologist • Youth and family mental health programs • Private practitioner for 17 years • Large contracts in recent years • Family therapy, solution-focused, narrative • Qualitative research
Some relevant bodies of knowledge Whole school mental health • Move away from discrete interventions to: prevention, promotion and education resources; curriculum and professional development programs; community partnerships; development of connectedness in schools, as opposed to “counselling” of individuals • Australian initiatives: “Health Promoting Schools”, “MindMatters”
Some relevant bodies of knowledge Cross-cultural counselling • Initial attempts to articulate cross-cultural counselling approaches were conceptualized from the perspective of dominant culture counsellors relating to “the culturally different” and being “culturally sensitive” • Increasingly there is appreciation of privilege embedded in differences of class, gender, race, sexual orientation and physical ability • Results: real power inequities/differential access to resources • Imperative to connect to our cultural histories and identities
Some relevant bodies of knowledge Cross-cultural counselling • BUT… even yesterday several people commented that the field still largely approaches this from the standpoint of the dominant culture • Although we are of the dominant culture, we are guests in the schools where we work. • The metaphors from which we operate (anthropologist, missionary, traveler, tourist) are not quite fitting
The story, or “How Not to Develop a Tidy, Replicable Program” • Possible pilot project funding afforded us the opportunity to develop a program for a high needs school population • Because we (FPC) were already aware of the needs in the schools, and the schools formed a distinct cultural group, FPC proposed a collaboration between FPC, the Independent Schools Association and Renfrew Education Services. • In the context of schools having felt poorly served by the larger educational community and feeling that their students had been benignly neglected and unfairly labeled, they respond cautiously, if not suspiciously even after assurance of funding.
The story, or “How Not to Develop a Tidy, Replicable Program” • So then what? • Even though we were familiar with culturally alert approaches to counselling, and a number of approaches to school-based service delivery, we chose not to enter with a theoretical approach. • We hired staff, we assigned them to schools, and we “built the plane as we were flying it.” • We entered positioning ourselves to be: • Collaborative • Respectful guests • Those who ‘serve’ rather than those who ‘help’
The story, or “How Not to Develop a Tidy, Replicable Program” • Stories of success… • “She SPOKE!!” • “I see that as being a management problem that J. and I are responsible for…” • “How the heck do I get this to stay on?” • “I wish I had a problem so that…” • “I don’t know what you’re doing but…” • “I don’t know how we did without this service…”
What We Learned (and what others could maybe learn) • In the real world, delivering services is messy • Local wisdom must be meshed with research • Inductive, qualitative research (e.g.,participatory, phenomenological, grounded theory), should be show-cased • Service and knowledge creation can co-exist • Transcultural competence is mutual
What We Learned (and what others could maybe learn) • Required attributes for staff are: flexibility, “can-do” spirit, and boundaries • Relational positioning is more important than model, technique or method • Macro-application of working alliance