Challenges and solutions in providing counseling services in Sport –The Bridge Ethiopia

In the last article of mine under the title – aim of counseling; I promised to come back with some actual experiences. In that article I tried to discuss the aim of counseling from the perspective of Sport – The Bridge (STB). Here I would like to highlight on the major challenges I have been facing and the actual solutions I am using to deal those challenges in the provision of counseling services to the street children and their parents
It is obvious that in any activities challenge are inevitable to happen. Hence if to face a challenge is not a surprise, the main point is how to solve these challenge could be a major agenda. In my counseling service provision experiences for my clients, I have been facing so many challenges and got stress how to solve it accordingly. Here after I would like to point out some of the challenges I have been facing and the prospective solutions I have been following so as to deal it in the case of STB.
Dear readers, let you know that if you have any comment, please I appreciate to accept it. In addition to introducing my activities, the main objective of this article is to get some ideas which I couldn’t see yet; hence feel free to share your ideas.

The very infant nature of the profession of psychology in general and counseling service in particular
Psychology in general and counseling service in particular is an infant but a growing profession and service in Ethiopia. The significance of the counseling services is not as much known and with misconceptions by the general population as comparing to other professions and services. This reality was also becoming true in Sport – The Bridge’s collaborators (such as Family integration workers) and beneficiaries; especially at the beginning of my work experiences in the organization. Hence, easily accessing the counseling service has been a major challenge for the beneficiaries and collaborators. By realizing this challenge, I designed two important strategies so as to attract and sufficiently providing the service of counseling to my potential clients and achieving the main goal of counseling in Sport – The bridge.
The first one was to assess the level of understanding of the staff on psychology in general and counseling psychology in particular. Hence based on my assessment result, I have been prepared a continual training sessions so as to minimize the misconceptions and boost their awareness to the service and easily understanding the psychological concerns of the children. Based on these consecutive sessions, I found a sound result which I really want to achieve. The number of clients who are coming through referral system by the collaborators to the counseling service has been increasing from time to time; which could be my evidence that I could be successful from this strategy.
The second strategy was creating awareness both for the children and their parents as they could understand the service. After the children are selected and got stability in Sport- The Bridge, I always try to explain who I am, my profession and my services in the organization. I also have an opportunity in the tutorial class (1)  to promote and explain all my services to them. Hence just like the first strategy, I found also an encouraging results; the number of clients who are coming based on their will to the service increasing from time to time.
Drop out and/ absenteeism
Drop out and absenteeism is the major challenge both for the program of STB in general and my service provision in particular. Even though we do have a lot of experience to work with street children, it is still difficult for us to forecast that one child could stable until he/she maintain his/her and the organization’s goals. Suddenly in the middle of his/her stay in STB, he/she may drop out from the program b/s of many reasons. On the other hand, they may also be able to not follow the actual schedule for counseling when they are absent from the compound for a short while.
So, for the children who are absent in the compound, I try to continue my service provisions by rescheduling, as a compensation session for the actual schedule, while they are actually presenting again. The compensation sessions could be rescheduled after we had a discussion and common consent for it.
Resistance in a professional way means an assumption that both a dispositional trait and an in-counseling state of oppositional, angry, irritable, and suspicious behaviors as a reflection of a client’s unwillingness to change and grow within counseling. So, in my experience with street children, most of the time, I have been facing resistance in the form of deliberately absent from the counseling session, unable to talk and suspiciousness to the growing counseling processes. Such kind behavioral manifestations are mostly observed by children who are ordered or referred by a third party to enter to counseling. Since they are not there of their own will, these clients are often reluctant to be there and can show very obvious resistance to the process. Hence to resolve this challenge I aware the collaborators on the necessary requirements before they are sending the children to the counseling. Based on their established relationship, the collaborators are aware of how to reach a common agreement with the children on the importance to go to the counseling services. Hence, the resistance is relatively loosened after the referral body wins the client’s consent to go to the service.
On the other ways my clients also show some sort of resistance to the emotional pain that change demands. Clients such as children with substance use problems can be unwilling and opposed to change even if it is what they desire, as change can be difficult, emotionally painful, or scary.
Lack of supportive environment
Because my clients lack supportive social and physical environment on the street, they may get little out come from the counseling service provision. Hence, to resolve this challenge, I always try to provide very clear and applicable techniques as a home work to be done outside of the counseling sessions. And as I recognized their source of social network is emanating from their friends on the street, I always searching ways from it. I use also STB’s shelter as an immediate solution for the rehabilitation purpose from their problems such as drug use problem and psychological trauma which they may face on the street.
Inappropriate physical setting for counseling service provision
Sport- The Bridge is running in a very crowded compound. So the counseling room is not situated far from the outside disturbances, which challenge the service to be accessed for a longer hours per a day. Hence to reduce this problem, I tried to recognize a calming time when I could provide the counseling service such as at the tutorial class (1)  time.

Dear reader, I hope now you got some kind of impression on challenges and the prospective measures taken in the provision of counseling service in the case of STB Ethiopia. I believe I will return back with other story in the near future. For the time being let me end up here. Thank u!!


By: Lastawusih Takele (counseling psychologist)



Tutorial Class (1) : The informal teaching and learning program which is running in every afternoon (from Monday to Friday) for the first year children of STB.

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