In recent years, an increasing number of counselors expressed their desire to learn more about how to become involved in opportunities such as our Mental Health Facilitator (MHF) program, which helps meet global mental health needs in underserved areas. In response, NBCC began organizing another program—NBCC institutes. These institutes are specially designed for students, counselors, and other mental health professionals to learn about counseling in other communities and countries.
As Dr. Wendi Schweiger-Moore, Director of Global Capacity Building, explained, “The Mental Health Facilitator (MHF) program quickly expanded to include opportunities for counselors and other mental health professionals to become involved as volunteers. However, involvement in MHF as a trainer is a significant investment in time that does not always fit the reality of a professional’s existing obligations to work, family, and community. We wanted another way to involve NCCs and others in global capacity building that would allow the professional to choose his or her own level of involvement, so we began offering institutes.”
NBCC collaborated on these institutes with Old Dominion University and then the University of Holy Cross, where they worked with Dr. Ted Remley, who along with his colleagues had organized institutes in Ireland and Italy for several years. Dr. Remley assisted the NBCC staff in learning how to organize and manage these opportunities. As they developed over time, NBCC institutes grew to offer participants the opportunity to expand their multicultural knowledge by engaging with new communities through service learning during an 8- to 10-day immersive experience. Participants learn about a new culture and the approach, opinions, strengths, and challenges of providing mental health services within that culture. Some professionals who have attended these institutes have become further involved in the partnering community by volunteering, conducting research, or educating others through presentations about their experiences.
NBCC institutes are typically priced between $1,500 and $2,500 (discounted for NCCs) plus airfare. This cost includes most meals, all accommodations, and activities that afford participants with opportunities to learn more about the culture and communities where the institutes are held. Although priority is given to NCCs, any mental health professional can attend an NBCC institute. Tentative locations in 2023–2024 are Bhutan, Canada, and Rwanda.
In addition, NBCC is growing its institutes program toward partnership with counselor education programs in the United States to develop institutes specifically for that university’s students, faculty, and alumni. Partnership with NBCC can include introduction to potential hosting partners, collaboration in itinerary design, marketing to NCCs and other constituents, joint branding (e.g., use of NBCC logos), and NBCC continuing education credit for participants.