KUCHING – An eight-day course was held from 9-18 December at the Mother Mary Priests’ Retirement Home (Stutong), where 34 participants were trained in basic counselling skills. The participants consisted of four religious sisters, three lay people from Kota Kinabalu, and parishioners from rural and urban parishes in the Archdiocese of Kuching.
The course was conducted by a team of four presenters and facilitators: Dr Francis Heng, PhD (a clinical psychologist), Sr Elizabeth Sim, fdcc (a Canossian nun), Bro Gerard Choo, SJ and Mrs Catherine Tyrer, an experienced therapist from the Family Life Society (FLS) Singapore. Invited by the Archbishop of Kuching and Peter Wong, Chairman of the Family Life Commission Kuching, the team was selected by Fr Charles Sim, SJ, president of the FLS Singapore.
The course started with a Mass presided by Archbishop John Ha. The theme selected was on the Lord being the Shepherd and his promise to walk alongside us all the time, especially in taking up this counselling ministry (Psalm 23).
The training was both theoretical and practical. Participants attended classes on the basic micro-counselling skills and other special topics on counselling, besides doing practical role-plays in groups of three: a counsellor, a counselee (client) and an observer. There was also ‘live’ supervision and video case-study sessions to enrich the class on the art of counselling.
The course ended with a graduation ceremony where each participant was awarded a ‘Certificate of Achievement’. Peter Wong in his concluding speech thanked the team from Singapore for paying their way to Kuching for this course, and also for their time and effort to ensure the participants got hands-on knowledge on counseling.
A closing Mass was celebrated by Fr Charles where special intentions were made for the future lay counsellors. A sumptuous buffet dinner followed the Mass.