Counseling is an integral part of the Waan Aelõñ in Majel program as the majority of the trainees have issues that have held them back from realizing their potential, which brought them to the program in the first place.
WAM is fortunate to have two highly-trained counselors: Tolina Tomeing* and the program’s Director Alson Kelen*.
“Our purpose is to help the youth in the program, who almost all left school early and lack the skills and education to be successful in employment, school and their lives,” Tolina explained. “The types of issues they are facing when they first enroll in the program are substance abuse, including alcohol and other drugs, gang involvement and being young mothers.”
WAM’s counseling consists of both group and individual sessions with the trainees. “This involves emotional and behavior issues and why they are resorting to substance abuse.”
The following are some of the techniques applied in the counseling sessions:
Listening skills: It is important to listen attentively to the client in an attempt to understand both the content of their problem, as they see it, and the emotions they are experiencing related to the problem. In many cases, this is the first time the trainees have had the opportunity to discuss these issues and most feel liberated to be able to go through this process.
Resistance: At WAM we understand that changing human behavior is not usually a linear, direct, and logical process. It is often very emotional and many habits of behavior and thought that are dysfunctional are difficult to break.
Persistence: Our persistence in showing the trainees a brighter path — be it in the classroom, the workshop, or, indeed, through the counseling sessions — do pay off. At every WAM graduation, we the counselors are often the most emotional as we see the broad changes that have come about in these young people in such a brief time.
* Tolina is a graduate and a continuing student at the College of the Marshall Islands and has also successfully completed many certificate programs. You can read more about her in her profile page.
* Alson is a certified counselor. You can read more about him in his profile page.