Debriefing at Shelter Pines

The debriefing sessions are an opportunity for you to externally process your journey with debriefers who “get it.” You can process the last 5 years or the last 5 months! It is up to you what part of your journey you would like to talk about. To help you in this process, skim through this workbook and jot down the things that come to mind. Your journey does not need to be expressed in a linear, time-oriented often gets expressed as bits and pieces of a bigger story.


The First Session (about 3 hours):

During the first session, you (and your spouse if you are married) will have the opportunity to share--you can “tell your story”, discuss specific questions from this workbook, process a specific event, or dump the whole thing out on the table! 


The Second Session/The Family Session (about 2 hours):

If you have requested a Family Debrief, that will take place during the Second Session (Day 2). How this session looks depends largely on family dynamics and ages of children. It is not meant to dive deep into each family member’s story, but rather, gives the family an opportunity to look at the big picture. We will start the session with the M-n-Ms game. Each M-&-M color represents a question to answer or story to share. Following this game, we will roll out a large piece of paper on the dining room table, along with markers and emoji stickers. You, as a family, will create a timeline of events. You decide where the timeline starts! As events get added and “emotions” get assigned to these events, we will ask some follow-up questions and engage in the process to the level we feel is “safe” for the family members present. It is important to remember that oftentimes the simple act of sharing memories together can help kids process their journeys. This time can also be considered a “starting point” for parents to then continue the debriefing journey with their kids on a more regular basis. You will receive a Debriefing Kit to take with you with various “tools” to help you, as a family, incorporate the practice of debriefing into your family life.


The Third Session (about 3 hours):

This session is two-fold: we will debrief the family session with you as a couple. Then if there is anything more you need to process that wasn’t addressed during the first session--this session allows time for that. If you are feeling capable of looking to the future (and we feel that you are in a healthy place to do so), we will spend about 1.5 hours coaching* around future-looking issue(s) (ie. self-care plan, planning a family vacation, etc). The coaching time will be more action step oriented and you will receive a summary of those action points from us following the debriefing. 

*Coaching assumes someone is healthy enough to think creatively and deeply for the purpose of discovery and goal setting. 

If you have teenagers...

  • Debriefing in a Private Setting works great for some families and not for others. If you have teenagers, you may want to consider debriefing in a group setting like the debriefing offered at Mission Training International. Teens often feel greater freedom at sharing their journey when surrounded by other teens who have also experienced life overseas. 

  • Establishing trust takes time and this is especially true with teenagers. The Family Session may look "unproductive" because of this dynamic. However, it is our hope that it will give your teens "permission" to consider the impact that their life overseas has had on their hearts, minds, and souls.

  • Some good resources for TCKs: Interaction International and Barnabas International's MK Transition Seminar

Please Remember...

Debriefing is not counseling, nor is coaching the same as counseling. “Life coaches focus on creating a new life path to achieve certain goals. They help you introspect and help you find your solutions. They focus on the now and what next. Whereas counselors focus on specific problems in hand and look into emotional resolutions to past problems to move forward, finding solutions to those specific problems, while making ‘healing’ as one of the main objectives.”  

 Ramakrishnan, G. (2020, March 04). Understanding the Difference Between Coaching and Counseling. Retrieved November 05, 2020, from