Today we kick off our special two week focus on stress with an interview with Russell Semon who will lead the four part-series on stress starting tomorrow. Russell is certified in giving the Cerny Smith (stress) Assessment and explaining the results. Thanks to a generous donor, he is able to offer 25 of you a free assessment and zoom session to go over the results. You read that right, twenty five of you! And it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, he’ll work with your time zone.
If you’re like me, you might be vaguely familiar with the CSA or you may never had heard of it before, so I asked Russell a few questions about it. And, if you leave a comment on this post, we’ll kick this series off with five of you winning a stress and resilience assessment geared for cross-cultural workers!
Russell, thanks for being here. I’m curious, what got you interested in the Cerny Smith Assessment?
Good question. I’d have to say that my interest in the Cerny Smith Assessment came as my involvement in the local church intersected with a transition from 28 years of Behavioral Health employment. Seven years ago, I began working in the counseling center which is a ministry of my local church. The church is very involved in sending, supporting, and participating in cross-cultural work. One day, I got a call from a couple, working cross culturally in a South American country, seeking counseling for anxiety. I was confident that based on my years of experience in Behavioral Health I could help them. Their anxiety seemed to be due to the cumulative stress of living and working cross culturally. As I began to prepare to meet with them, I realized that the approach I would typically suggest to alleviate their anxiety would conflict with their call and their commitment to the cross-cultural work.
This realization led me to start researching, learning as much as I could about cross-cultural issues and effective treatment approaches. I started by rethinking my own theology of suffering. In the process, I discovered that there was a whole international, interdisciplinary approach that I knew nothing about called member care. I attended the Mental Health in M-work conferences, participated in a Workshop on Risk Assessment and Management for Cross-Cultural workers, participated in opportunities to see and learn directly from those working cross culturally in El Salvador, Lithuania, and Turkey. I read a lot about how to care for those working cross-culturally, and as I was looking for tools that would better equip me to serve, I learned about the Cerny Smith Stress Assessment. In 2018, I participated in the CSA training and became a certified coach. I’ve been able to offer the CSA and follow-up coaching since that time.
What is the Cerny Smith Assessment and how does it work?
So, the Cerny Smith Stress Assessment is a research based, online tool that was developed to help people working in cross-cultural settings to be successful in adjusting to, or successfully managing their lives during times of transition. According to Cerny Smith’s own material, the CSA has been used in over 147 countries by thousands of international organizations, expatriates, families, and students.
The process is fairly straight forward, if an individual wants to take the CSA they can access the assessments through the CSA website. As a coach and through my agency, I can offer the CSA with feedback and a coaching session via Zoom. If they choose this option, I send them an invitation through the CSA system with a link to the online assessment. In my experience the time required for completing the assessment ranges from 45 minutes to just over an hour.
Once the assessment is complete, the results are available to the user and the coach and can be downloaded. The coach and individual then decide on a day and time to review the results. This review usually takes about 1 ½ hours.
There have been occasions when the information provided through the assessment and/or the Zoom review has required more than the allotted time. In these instances, I have been able to provide additional follow up coaching meetings.
I’m curious how taking this assessment can help or be of value to a cross-cultural worker?
Although I often hear that the individual hasn’t discovered or learned anything that they didn’t already know about the source of their stress, there is significant value in the structure and format of the report because it allows them to “see” a more complete picture of their lives, particularly since stress tends to narrow one’s focus. Improved awareness is an important benefit.
The report also generates suggestions for how the individual might minimize or manage challenging areas and enhance areas of strength, which facilitates the development of plans for change.
The section of the report that I have found to be very helpful is the section that records individual statements that elaborate more on specific questions or areas of challenge. These comments often clarify the individual’s responses, enhancing communication during the review process.
Ultimately, the goal is to help those working cross culturally to reduce stress, experience greater personal satisfaction, enhance general well-being, and improve functioning in their work.
Just a few more questions. Do you meet with couples or just individuals?
I’m up for whatever is best for a couple. Each person will need to take his or her own assessment, but then they will have the option to meet with me individually or as a couple.
Last question to help us have a sense of what we would pay to take the assessment. Normally how much does this assessment cost?
Cerny Smith offers 3 options for the CSA. CSA with a brief report for $24, CSA with feedback report for $50 and CSA with feedback report and coaching for $200.
We are grateful for the donor who cares so much about you, oh cross-cultural workers, that they’re investing in 25 of these assessments … humbling and encouraging! We look forward to your 4-part series on stress, Russell!
Leave a comment below, and we will draw five winners by tomorrow when the series starts. Let the fun begin! The giveaway on this post is over … so to enter, leave a comment on another post in the series 🙂