This week I came across Journal of Family and Community Ministries (free subscription required) describing the use of text messages (160 characters or less) to trainees in Rwanda and Kenya. The trainees, having received face-to-face business education, then received one text message each business day for four weeks. 4 of the text messages each week contained a local proverb used to remind and/or enhance the business education they received. Each Friday they received a text containing a multiple choice quiz question to see whether learning was taking place. This pilot study seemed to provide a “proof of concept.”
Having read the article, I began to think about two applications, sustaining trauma healing training and supporting ongoing therapy efforts.
Sustaining Trauma Healing Training
We all know the experience of attending a great training but then finding months later that we have forgotten some important concepts—or can no longer explain them as well as we would like. Life can get in the way and we lose the ideas and skills we wanted to retain.
For the last several years I have been involved in providing conference-based training to counselors and caregivers in Rwanda. Our focus in to “top-up” knowledge and skills related to trauma recovery and other related topics (especially domestic violence, child abuse prevention, addictions, etc.) Each time I am impressed by the quality of the participants and the ability to overcome personal and logistical challenges to do the work they do. But some of our topics touch on pretty new or controversial material that may not be as immediately usable by our participants. One possible solution to this problem would be to use existing proverbs (or modify a bit) and send as reminders of ideas learned. It stands to reason that these short reminders might help solidify learning. In addition, it may also help maintain connections between trainer and trainee as well as trainee and trainee between annual meetings.
Supporting Ongoing Therapy
Most counselors have the experience that their clients “get” a new skill in session only to “forget” it later in the week. What if clients could receive short texts reminding them to practice a skill, or reminding them a thought that they wanted to remember? For example, if a counselor had a specialty dealing with anxiety disorders, clients could choose to sign up to receive a daily text reminder to use common or remember key truths.
Life tends to push out what we are trying to remember. Those who journal sometimes review old writings and remember anew something that they really wanted to retain. A text message might just might provide this kind of reminder and keep the learning fresh and present.