Expert Kelly O'Donnell offers insights on psychological support for mission and aid personnel
“The Pearls and the Perils: Practicing Psychology in Mission and Aid Settings” was the topic for this year’s Integration Symposium held in February at Fuller’s Pasadena campus, with psychologist Kelly O’Donnell, of Member Care International, as guest lecturer. Dr. O’Donnell spoke about “member care,” an interdisciplinary field that focuses on supporting mission and aid personnel in their work and lives.
“Kelly O’Donnell is the face of member care for missionaries and international relief workers. He essentially founded the field, and shared with us from his more than 20 years of experience,” said Al Dueck, the Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of the Integration of Psychology and Theology.
O’Donnell offered three lectures over the two-day symposium, each followed by a response and discussion: “Staying Healthy in Difficult Places,” “Promoting Health and Managing Dysfunction,” and “Developing Ethics and Good Practice in Member Care.”
“Dr. O’Donnell’s lectures made it eminently clear that he had encountered many a missionary in difficult circumstances sharing the gospel at personal and psychological cost,” noted Dueck. “He expressed deep concern about the organizational culture of mission agencies, and pointed out that these agencies would learn much about how to treat missionaries by taking a page from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are grateful for Dr. O'Donnell's prophetic reflections.”
O’Donnell serves as a consulting psychologist with Member Care International, based in Europe. He has written extensively about member care and with his wife, Michele, also a psychologist, and two daughters, he has lived in five countries and consulted with agencies and workers in 40 countries.
The Integration Symposium, also known as the Fuller Symposium on the Integration of Faith and Psychology, is an annual lectureship hosted by the School of Psychology featuring a nationally recognized scholar who focuses on a single integrative issue. It aims to encourage the discovery of new relationships between the Christian faith and the disciplines of psychology.