- Kristina Brown, PhD, LMFT, Professor and Chair of the Couple and Family Therapy Department, Adler University, Chicago, IL
Consistent with Adler University’s mission of educating socially responsible practitioners, developing opportunities for community engagement, and infusing social justice across the students’ training, this program embraced global learning through the development of a study abroad immersion course. In the summer of 2019, seven students and one faculty studied abroad volunteering for Floating Doctors located in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Floating Doctors is a non-government organization (NGO) located in Panama since 2011 that provides single and multi-day mobile medical clinics to 24 Ngäbe communities on a quarterly rotating basis. CFT students interested in medical family therapy as well as a global experience as part of their training joined together to volunteer for two weeks. Study abroad has been confirmed as a valuable experience at every level of higher education including in behavioral health training programs; this immersion course was no different providing both hard lessons and expanded opportunities for exploration of self-of-the-therapist specifically through a socially responsible and just lens of practice. Our learning extended beyond the clinics including each of our abilities to navigate internal and external stressors. We engaged as volunteers but also shared our perspectives through a therapeutic lens in presenting clinical rounds each week and as feedback for the ongoing inclusion of mental health as a Medical Family Therapy program in Floating Doctors.
- Understand the range of strengths to challenges inherent with a study abroad opportunity in a behavioral health training program
- Embrace requirements, e.g. preparation including budget and syllabus, and considerations to develop their own study abroad experience including with Floating Doctors
- Confirm important tasks and assignments to incorporate in study abroad to uphold best learning experiences both social justice / socially responsible practice and clinical skills