Kenya

I woke up this morning feeling sad

At 9am, I was supposed to be riding in a stuffy 9-seater van driving down dusty, unpaved roads to a Kenyan refugee village. For the past 6 years, I’ve taken this bumpy drive to visit the Shalom community. Today I was longing to see those children’s happy faces and feel their little hands in mine when I return and reconnect with them. They cheerfully welcome us with exuberant singing and dancing, and playfully fight over holding the hands of all the donors who accompany us.… Read more...

Building Schools and Lives in Kenya

Welcome from Molo Community, KenyaAs you may know, over the past 5 years I’ve been involved in building schools in communities for traumatically displaced people. Working through the nonprofit organization World Teacher Aid, we’ve completed 7 schools, each serving about 500 kids, and we have more schools on the way. We are building schools and lives at the same time. Due to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007, 600,000 people were displaced. Others died. They lost their homes, communities, family members and most of their possessions. Some were middle class workers while others were poor farmers. In just one night, their lives changed forever.… Read more...

Spotlight on Kenya: Hope for a Better Future

In 2009 a Canadian couple with a dream and $1000 in their nonprofit  bank account were inspired to build schools in Kenya for refugees displaced by political and tribal violence. Stu McLaren, an internet marketer and his wife, Amy, a second grade teacher, wanted to bring two things to these communities: hope and education. They co-founded World Teacher Aid to make it happen. Pete and I jumped in with enthusiasm – fundraising, traveling, actually building schools in Kenya with our own hands – and our lives have been enriched in ways we never could have imagined. KidsInClassPEteachers1 Since then, we have visited Kenya three times to help World Teacher Aid build schools.… Read more...

Kenya: The Transformative Power of Hope

Lemolo_classroom_225If you have known me for a while, you know that Pete and I are very dedicated to building schools for displaced refugee communities in Kenya. I’ve wanted to write to you for weeks, since returning from our most recent trip. At last I am able to write, after recovering from jet lag and catching up.… Read more...

Resolving Trauma: Some Things Can’t Be Done Alone

KagameYou might know that Pete and I have been building schools in Kenya for four years. We work in communities of refugees who were traumatized and displaced by political and tribal violence, and we have a special connection with the wonderful people struggling for survival in this part of Africa. In fact, we are now counting the days until we return to build another school in a new refugee community called Lemolo. So it was especially inspiring for me to hear the current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, speak live at Wisdom 2.0.… Read more...

My Visit to a Counseling Center in Africa

A year ago I wrote a newsletter as I was winging home from Africa – and here I am again. So many reflections, so many experiences, sights, sounds, emotions.  Where do I begin? And do I share what meant most to me or what might be most relevant to you and your work? I'd like to tell you about Amani Counseling Center in Africa. This year I went with Michelle Wangler (whom many of you know) and Rita Maynard, a very talented therapist from Portland, Oregon, who trained with us for many years. If you don’t know Michelle, she works at The Couples Institute as both a couples therapist and an assistant in my online training program.… Read more...

Developmental Change, Focus on the Initiator, Part 2

Recognizing When Your Client Defines a Clear Issue with Related Feelings Today's blog post is the second in which we focus on the Initiator for more effective Initiation. We are explaining the steps with volatile couples as you begin working with them in the Initiator-Inquirer format. The tasks of being an effective Initiator sound simple. The Initiator… 1.  Brings up one and only one issue/problem 2.  Uses “I messages” to describe thoughts & feelings about the issue 3.  Describes the issue without blame or name calling 4.  Is open to learning more about him/herself than was known before he/she started talk For you as the therapist, this step involves asking yourself, “Did my client actually initiate?”… Read more...

Kenya – A Journey In Negotiation

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New Ways to Create Collaboration for Severely Distressed Couples

October is here. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all quickly tumble into the family, creating stress for couples. School has been underway long enough for kids’ schedules, the demands of various activities, and homework challenges to create additional stress. Couples start fighting much more than they did in the summer months. Their lack of ability to collaborate effectively becomes apparent. Perhaps they call a therapist or perhaps they wait even longer. Too frequently they wait until their problems have become chronic. John Gottman says, “People wait an average of 6 years to get any couples counseling after distress” (Notarius).… Read more...
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