Training sessions underway for guidance counsellors, probation and child protection officers.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Close to 20 secondary school guidance counsellors and probation and child protection officers are now better equipped to help youth who are dealing with substance abuse after participating in a daylong training session.

The training took place on March 8 at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Headquarters in Fortlands. It was hosted by St. Kitts and Nevis National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention.

Each participant received a manual designed to help train substance abuse treatment counsellors to conduct a brief five-session treatment intervention for adolescents with cannabis use disorders. The training combined two sessions of Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) provided individually, and three sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) provided in a group format.

The programme is referred to as MET/CBT5. The MET sessions focus on factors that motivate clients to change. During CBT sessions, clients learn skills to cope with problems and meet their needs in ways that do not involve turning to marijuana.

According to the course facilitator, Zahra Jacobs, a Counsellor in the Ministry of Social Development, there is also the option of extending the programme to 10 sessions. Ms. Jacobs said the activity is important because it has become necessary to increase the number of trainees to help young people end their use of cannabis.

“The idea is that there are about half a dozen of us who have done training in this specifically,” said Ms. Jacobs. “Half a dozen people are not enough to cover the extent of the challenges that we are facing with substance use with young people in S. Kitts and Nevis. The hope is that people are going to be able to roll this out in their own schools with the support of Officers from Probation and Child Protection officers and the support of the National Drug Council.”

Ms. Jacobs described the session as “highly interactive.”

“I’m working with people who know what it’s like and what young people are going through,” explained Ms. Jacobs. “They are very much in the field so the training is very reality-based. This is not theoretical in any way, this is practical.

“They are bringing up some real-life things, she said. “Sometimes when we do training it is just a, ‘well this is what could happen,’ but these are people who know what could happen. We are troubleshooting things on the spot that is great.

“We have been discussing just the logistics of what it’s like,” said Ms. Jacobs. “Does a programme like this need to happen during the school day? After school? What are the supports playing through it? And yeah it’s been going great.”

St. Kitts and Nevis National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention also has a training session planned IN Nevis.