Personal, Informal Maintenance Debriefings

Of all the posts I have posted, “Why you need a Debriefing. Yes You” is by far the most viewed post. Apparently this touched a need.

I’d like to revisit this topic with some ideas on how to proceed in being debriefed. As shepherds we must remember we are sheep first, shepherds second.  We must be willing to be recipients of any care we offer to others. We need to be shepherded, mentored, coached, directed, debriefed…..

Great Programs in the US*
I am aware of some fantastic options globally, but I have not had direct contact with them. Here is what I know to be solid choices within the US. If you know of other programs, please do share.

I have been involved with the DAR program for over a decade. It is a top notch program for the entire family. It is a worthy investment.  is another debriefing program, based in Joplin, MO (USA).

For those who are needing a bit more clinical care and time to process, offers a three week program that I have referred many, many people to over the years.

These types of programs are essential from time to time, say maybe once every 3-5 years. But what about the month-to-month elements of life that would be helpful to talk through?

Informal, Relational Debriefing
IMG_0517.JPGWithout diminishing the need for a personal debriefing of the caliber the above programs provide, there are ways to avoid an accumulation as we go about life and work. It’s kind of like having the oil changed in your car – essential, regular maintenance but no need for the major overhaul every month. I have found that it is helpful to process the impact and lessons of nearly any ministry experience. This is a wise reflective practice. Further, it invites others into our life and our ministry.

Here is an idea: teach a couple of peers how to be debriefers for you. It would take a little intentional time and maybe even mentoring, but the rewards can be significant.

Here are three simple questions that someone with some maturity, awareness of what your life is about, and good listening skills could guide you through.

Question 1: What did you experience? This is simply sharing what you did, where you went, and who you engaged. Just sharing the facts is the point of this step.

Question 2: How did that impact you? This question takes you from your head to your heart. Now your emotions are engaged. A good listener with a mature faith and the awareness to not edit or fix you, is essential. This step can take some time to work through. Debriefing is not counseling.  If something significant is bumped into, then a trained counselor, spiritual director, or another specific mentor could spend time with you in this area.

Question 3: What do you want to do about all this? This kind of moves you back to the “stable ground” of your head. Here some lessons or insights can be identified. For example, one insight could be “I went into those first meetings way too jet lagged and tired. Next trip I need a day or two to rest and get my wits about me before I jump into the work at hand.”

No Redux Here
Again, I want to emphasize that I am not trying to negate the need for professional, well guided debriefing. What I am encouraging is more regular, intentional processing of regular, routine life experiences. What experiences have you had along this line that you could share with others?

****Addendum to original post. Here are serval programs I have been either reminded of or brought to my attention:

Within the US
Interlude hosted by Barnabas International Staff

Emma’s Encounter in MT



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6 Responses to Personal, Informal Maintenance Debriefings

  1. paulmaugerlam says:

    I would like to recommend the Emmaus Encounter debrief : This is an individual or couple debrief located in Montana using the Exchange at the Cross model. It was a blessing to my husband and I. We ourselves have received a training in a Le Rucher debrief which I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to be debriefed. It is offered about twice a year near Atlanta, Georgia although the original location is in France near the Swiss border: What I like about the Le Rucher model that isn’t always offered with other models, is that not only listen the the debriefee’s story but it moves them in the direction of the Exchange at the Cross where the debriefee releases their loss, pain and sorrow in exchange for what Christ gave us at the cross which is so much more than just forgiveness of sin. The Le Rucher model is really a debrief that occurs between the person and the Lord with the debriefer merely acting as the facilitator.


    • Scott S says:


      Thank you for mentioning these great resources. I am aware of Lerucher’s debriefing. Thank you for explaining its model. It sounds wonderful.

      I had not heard of Emmaus’ Encounter. It sounds like another great US-based resource.

      Thank you so much for sharing these, most helpful! SS


  2. Janet Kerr says:

    Hi ,my name is Janet Kerr and my husband Andy, are the founders of Emmaus Encounter in lakeside Montna. I was so pleased to see Nancy’s recommendation as we offer a 5 day debriefing for those serving in missions and the church. We served in Asia for 7 years and realized that debriefing is something we all need and wished we had it . We live in a beautiful area by the Flathead lake and glacier national park in Montana . There are wide open spaces for your soul to breathe in God and unload the burdens we all seem to acumalate on our journey. We do individual and couples debriefs and training and retreats . We would love to serve those who are serving others in missions .


    • Scott S says:

      Janet Thank you for responding. It is wonderful to know of your program. All of the North American debriefing programs combined do not come close to addressing all of the combined debriefing needs. Thank you and well done for leaning into this significant need. Everyone, check out Emmaus Encounter!



  3. Nancy Todd says:

    Thanks for your blog, Scott. Debriefing is truly an important part of our journey! I want to recommend the debriefing retreat, Interlude, facilitated by Barnabas Staff members. — We will hold our first one in Carmel, Indiana – June 27 -30. We are using many of the same techniques as MTI and the Le Raucher debriefing models (e.g. using small group and individual debrief, exchange at the cross, etc.) For more information go to on the Barnabas website. We still have openings for June!

    For people in Canada, we are facilitating two similar debriefing retreats called, The Emmaus Journey — July 25 – 28 and Sept. 20 -23. For more information got to


    • Scott S says:

      Thank you Nancy. Mia Culpa – I am remiss in mentioning a new debriefing provision in the US. Please see Nancy’s link that several of my wonderful colleagues will be holding this summer. SS


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