Post-Field - Debrief

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Returning Field Worker

Sender

Debriefing can take the form of a retreat or be as simple as an hour-long open question interview. There is no right or wrong answer to the questions you will be asked – they are raised purely to give you the opportunity to process what the time in the other culture was about, what were the good and difficult aspects of your time there and the impact that culture had on you. Don’t pass up this opportunity for such a debrief if offered it: it may bring up some issues that truly do need to be looked at in-depth, possibly because you did not have the chance to process them at the time. Be warned about the 3-minute rule and determine not to be offended by it!

 

If the returning field worker was with an agency on the field, it could be that your mission partner already had a debrief before they left. But that would have been for closure over the work mainly and to do with their handover. After a short while at home (six weeks or so?) it would be good to offer a ‘returning home debrief’.

This could be as simple as an informal interview with open-ended questions that enables the returnee to process what their time in the host country was all about and to engage with their emotions in a way that perhaps they are not able to do on their own. We suggest this is helpful whether the return is for a short time only or if it is permanent. It is possible at this time that undealt with problems will surface and it will be clear that deeper help is needed. Far better for that to be discovered early rather than too late when real emotional damage has been done. If more is needed, then a fuller debrief retreat, even for the whole family, might be recommended, or some counselling or therapy with a professional.

 

Returning Field Worker

Debriefing can take the form of a retreat or be as simple as an hour-long open question interview. There is no right or wrong answer to the questions you will be asked – they are raised purely to give you the opportunity to process what the time in the other culture was about, what were the good and difficult aspects of your time there and the impact that culture had on you. Don’t pass up this opportunity for such a debrief if offered it: it may bring up some issues that truly do need to be looked at in-depth, possibly because you did not have the chance to process them at the time. Be warned about the 3-minute rule and determine not to be offended by it!

 

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Sender

If the returning field worker was with an agency on the field, it could be that your mission partner already had a debrief before they left. But that would have been for closure over the work mainly and to do with their handover. After a short while at home (six weeks or so?) it would be good to offer a ‘returning home debrief’.

This could be as simple as an informal interview with open-ended questions that enables the returnee to process what their time in the host country was all about and to engage with their emotions in a way that perhaps they are not able to do on their own. We suggest this is helpful whether the return is for a short time only or if it is permanent. It is possible at this time that undealt with problems will surface and it will be clear that deeper help is needed. Far better for that to be discovered early rather than too late when real emotional damage has been done. If more is needed, then a fuller debrief retreat, even for the whole family, might be recommended, or some counselling or therapy with a professional.

 

Resources

Read our blog 'The 3-minute rule (and how not to be offended)' - the phenomenon where a fieldworker find s themselves having sum up their entire life and ministry on the field in an impossibly short space of time!

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