China: The first academic and management forum on psycho-counseling assistance in Beichuan

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By: Faith reporter

Jinde Charities/ Faith News, It is now a full six months since the May 12th Wenchuan earthquake. Various outside experts were brought in under local government support agencies to assist with a series of psychological care projects to the survivors of the disaster. The experts were very concerned with the psychological well-being of the inhabitants of Beichuan County in particular, as this was one of the hardest-hit areas. For the purpose of efficiently planning and evaluating Beichuan County's psychological assistance work, and with the help of local government, Jinde Charities cooperated with the Mianyang Station of Psycho-Counseling Institute of the Chinese Social Science Academy in sponsoring the "First Academic and Management on Psycho-Counseling Assistance" in Yongan town in Mianyang city on November 2nd.

The participants in the Forum were as follows: The Crisis Intervention Center of Psycho-Counseling Institute of the Chinese Social Science Academy, The Psychology Department of Southwest University of Science and Technology, Beijing Renai Foundation, Mianyang City, and the relevant departments of Beichuan County. All the experts and scholars put forward a series of recommendations and proposals outlining the focus and methods of psychological assistance. These matters were discussed extensively. Dr. Shi Zhanbiao, head of Mianyang Station of Psycho-Counseling Institute of the Chinese Social Science Academy, declared the establishment of the Proposal of Beichuan Psychological Assistance Association.

Staff of Jinde Charities gave an account of their response since the time of the May 12th earthquake. They reported the prompt deployment of groups of volunteers who provided emergency relief and assistance to the disaster area. Fr. Jiang Hua, responsible for the Jinde Charities' psychological assistance in Mianyang reported their introduction of a psychological counseling service to the victims in the disaster area and shared details of the experience and drew lessons from the practice.

According to Sr. Michael Lee, Director of Jinde Charities' Chengdu office, from May 16th, the first batch of volunteers arrived at the disaster areas, and initially conducted simple psychological counseling services to the masses of earthquake survivors. By July, according to the disaster area's needs Jinde Charities formally established psychological assistance workstation in Mianyang, then dispatched the qualified volunteers to ease the emotional, psychological crisis and to provide intervention services in the disaster area. By implementing the dual methods of of psychological assistance and material assistance to the disaster area proved a unique combination. The main target groups for psychological assistance are students, parents, and ordinary people in the disaster areas, once in Beichuan secondary schools and Huangjiang obligatory primary school of Hanzeng town for the students to counseling groups. At present, cooperating with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to start a "spiritual journey," to provide psychological counseling services for the primary and secondary teachers in Beichuan.

Beichuan government has fully confirmed the importance of psychological assistance and said it will continue to support the work of psychologists and warmly invite experts to continue to supply their assistance to people in the disaster areas.