Rick Myer, Ph.D., chair and professor in The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Educational Psychology and Special Services, spent part of his summer in northeast Egypt to train about 100 religious volunteers about crisis intervention.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria invited Myer, an international expert in crisis management, to instruct peer counselors on ways to help individuals and families who must deal with situations such as suicide, domestic violence, leaving the church, and family members who may consider marriage outside their faith.
“I just considered it an international version of community service,” said Myer, who has offered trainings on five continents. “One of my main messages to them was to stress that no long-term decisions should be made in time of crisis. The short-term goal should be to deal with the crisis.”
Myer said his work with the church, an Oriental Orthodox Christian faith, gave him a different cultural perspective that he can share when he promotes cultural sensitivity among his students. He said he already had shared parts of his experience with students in his extended hybrid “Crisis Intervention” course this summer.
“I challenge my students,” Myer said. “I tell them that they will have to deal with people who may not share their cultural norms.”
One of his former graduate students from the University of Pittsburgh translated his trainings from English to Arabic. The student, who works in Egypt, was instrumental in having the church invite Myer.
The UTEP professor said some of what he dealt with in Egypt could be part of his next book that will be about the ethical implications in crisis intervention.