Why consult remotely?
Stresses and a tipping point
Humanitarian workers are driven by powerful motivations which can both work as resources and potentially lead to tense situations. They are subjected to a variety of internal and external stress factors of various degrees of intensity depending on their work context, the posts they have taken up and the stage they are at in their lives. Everyone can, at a given moment in their personal history, lose some of their equilibrium and therefore need professional help to re-establish a creative link with themselves and their environment.
The psychological care or support provided in the humanitarian fields is generally poor. When these services are available, they are likely to be unsuited to the needs of and constraints faced by a humanitarian worker. But giving up on getting help is often a source of additional suffering, personal and at work.
Asking for and getting help at the right moment means:
- giving oneself the chance to overcome a crisis by avoiding a breakdown,
- a crucial first step in restoring continuity in one’s life,
- and an excellent way to take care of oneself.
Reasons for consulting
There is a wide of range of reasons that can lead a humanitarian worker to seek long-distance psychological support during their missions. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- As a beginner in their profession, the encounter with the reality in the field can prove to be a personal and professional destabilizing factor.
- As an experienced humanitarian worker, the point of their personal and professional commitment can be called into question following a specific event or for no apparent reason.
- Having gone on to take up an international post, former national staff can find it very difficult to approach this important challenge.
- Several weeks after being involved in a critical incident, they struggle to regain their professional and/or personal equilibrium.
- Forced separation from family puts strain on relationships.
The return from or the end of a mission are equally significant periods during which new or old difficulties can emerge and provide reasons for seeking long-distance support:
- Any of the first four instances quoted above can occur after returning from a mission.
- The family reunion and reconfiguration associated with the return from a mission or the prospect of a new one prove difficult.
It is important to note that there are no good or bad reasons for consulting a psychologist – it simply means that suffering of some kind has been recognized and it needs relieving.
By opting for long-distance support, a humanitarian worker ensures, among other things, that they are able to continue:
- the work they have started in their mission field despite their return and maintain some continuity despite life’s usual disruptions;
- with the same practitioner irrespective of their future location (in case they leave again).