The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) in collaboration with the Liberia Association of Psychosocial Service (LAPS) has begun a four day trainer of trainers' workshop for forty counselors from six counties of Liberia at the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Congo-town.
Speaking at the opening programs of the workshop,, the Program Advisor of the United Nations Gender Based Violence (GBV) Project, Dr. (Mrs) Madhumita Sarkar described the training as a serious effort at ensuring that the counseling skills of counselors are functioning and broadened.
She added that the training is a step forward in addressing gender based violence in Liberia, adding that the importance of counselors and how they can make a difference in the lives of the survivals who they reached out to will be a key component of the training.
Dr. Sarkar said counseling, which is a special skill, is required everywhere and it is her expectation that at the end of the workshop, participants will create programs that will encourage more counselors in their various counties of assignment.
She called on counselors to handle cases of survivals with empathy, and not to judge or blame them for reason(s) that led to the situation. She pointed out that the training will teach counselors on what and what not to say to survivals.
Also speaking, the Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Madam Vivian Cherue, called on the participants to make use of the workshop and become good counselors in Liberia. She also encouraged them to learn better counseling skills and make good use of the opportunities they will acquire.
For his part, the Executive Director of LAPS, Mr. Seidu Swaray, said his organization is delighted to collaborate with the MoHSW in capacitating Liberian counselors. He challenged the participants to take the training seriously so that they will train other Liberians to become counselors.
LAPS is a Liberian non-governmental organization dedicated to bring relief to survivals of trauma and torture, as GBV of all age groups so as to enable them effectively function in their communities. LAPS strives to achieve this goal through a wide range of activities, including trauma recovery and mental health care, associated with psychosocial activities, training of community members and leaders as well as partners' organizations and agencies, and continuing capacity building.
LAPS also have expertise and experiences in marital and family counseling and mediation interventions, child behavioral modification interventions, and caregiver's intervention. They also provide HIV/AIDS counseling and awareness, crisis intervention for suicidal individuals, preparing child or adult survivors for court appearances and testimonies amongst others.
In a related development, the head of Psychosocial Counseling at the MoHSW, Mr. Jonah Boykai said the four days training will also focus on counseling, copping mechanism and stress management amongst others. He added that at the end of the training, participants will know the differences between advice and counseling.
He noted that a follow-up training will be conducted in the various counties to make sure that the participants carry out additional training for other counselors in the counties. He said the six counties were selected due to the high level of sexual and gender based cases.
Participants at the training came from Bong, Bomi, Gbapolu, Grand Bassa, Nimba and River Gee Counties. (Author's contact, 231886270297; email: )