Psychosocial Assignment Support & Counselling

The Mandala Foundation provides specialist psychosocial and psychological assignment support services to humanitarian aid and development workers, both in Australia and internationally.

Our core psychosocial assignment support services comprise:

All these assignment support services can be tailored and incorporated into organisational recruitment and staff care programs or delivered on an as-needs basis to individuals or teams. They are also available to independent clients (i.e. those not sponsored by an organisation).

Most services are conducted face-to-face at our office in Fitzroy (Melbourne) or remotely via Skype or telephone. Travel to other locations is possible by arrangement.

All our assignment support services are delivered by registered psychologists with specialised knowledge of the humanitarian sector. Our approach is informed by principles of systematic psychosocial support—we acknowledge the diverse and changing psychosocial risks (or stressors) that aid workers face at different stages of the assignment cycle and tailor our response strategies and recommendations to support the needs of the individual in the context of the system that surrounds them.

Read more about our approach.

Core Assignment Support Services

Psychological testing and screening for assignment

Psychological assessment and screening can assist organisations to recruit and select personnel for assignments or registers, enabling organisations to appraise the competencies of an individual and their suitability and preparedness for a particular role. Assessments are conducted by registered psychologists and usually comprise both online psychological surveys and a psychosocial interview. A short summary report and list of recommendations is provided to the organisation.

Factors that may be assessed in psychological testing and screening include:

  • Prior exposure to assignment stressors
  • Anticipated stress responses to assignment stressors
  • Current levels of stress fitness and resilience
  • General mental health status
  • Personal health and wellbeing habits
  • Cognitive and emotional style and personality
  • Cultural interactional style
  • Problem solving capacity

For managers: Request a screening for one of your deployees by downloading and completing a requisition form.

Pre-assignment psychosocial briefing and preparation

Psychosocial briefing and preparation interviews can assist assignees to identify their individual self-care needs and work towards mitigating psychosocial risks likely to be encountered on an assignment. These services can be accessed at the pre-deployment stage of an assignment or when an assignee is considering extending an assignment. They can also be combined with the psychological testing and screening service. A practical summary report is provided to the deploying organisation following completion of the briefing and preparation interview and an assignment self-care plan is devised in consultation with the assignee.

For managers: Request a pre-deployment briefing for one of your deployees by downloading and completing a requisition form.

On-assignment psychological counselling

Mandala provides specialist psychological counselling and support services for nationally and internationally-based staff and volunteers. Our psychologists have specialised training and experience in working with humanitarian and emergency workers and volunteers. Types of counselling include:

  • Emergency response debriefing and counselling
  • Trauma-focused counselling
  • Critical incident and crisis support counselling
  • Adjustment and coping support

Face-to-face counselling is offered at our office in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Counselling is also available via telephone or Skype to Australia or internationally-based staff.

Factors that are commonly discussed in counselling sessions include:

  • Response to a crisis or disaster
  • Field-related stress and organisational factors
  • Long-term cumulative stress and vicarious trauma
  • Anxiety, depression and grief issues
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Vicarious and secondary trauma
  • Family and relationship dynamics

For managers: Request a counselling session for one of your deployees by downloading and completing a requisition form.

Post-assignment psychosocial debriefing

The period following an assignment can be one of the most challenging stages for assignees. Following an assignment, the following re-entry and reintegration support services are also offered:

  • Post-assignment debriefing and counselling to support re-entry
  • Longer term re-integration support

For managers: Request a post-deployment debriefing for one of your deployees by downloading and completing a requisition form.

Vocational counselling and mentoring

Many individuals return from their first humanitarian or community development assignment with drastically adjusted worldviews, ambitions and career aspirations. Our vocational counsellors can help you work through your vocational goals and map a pathway toward a fulfilling career.

We also provide practical advice to individuals wishing to pursue a career in the humanitarian aid sector, and we offer a one-day workshop on this topic: Developing a Pathway to Work in Humanitarian Aid.

We have also run three major conferences on Vocations in Aid (formerly Volunteers in Aid), bringing together prospective international aid workers and volunteers and sending organisations from across the sector.

2012 Vocations in Aid conference: Download program

2011 Volunteers in Aid conference: Download report Download program

2010 Volunteers in Aid conference: Download report