From a post over at WhyDev.org:
If you have worked in international development, you have probably experienced isolation. It seems to be a fact of life in this industry. Field-based expat staff may be the only person at their level in their local office, or the only expat on the team (or one of very few), separated from their local staff counterparts by cultural, language, and organisational barriers. Even people working in the home office may feel isolated. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable sharing their struggles with their boss. Or maybe the boss him/herself is the problem.
Many people working in aid and development tend to spend a lot of time talking about work with their spouses, partners, or close friends. This can be a great source of support. However, it can also put undue pressure on the person who is getting an earful. Over time, they may tire of hearing the same complaints. Someone who doesn’t work with you — or work in development — may not “get” your work context. And a spouse will likely have a hard time remaining neutral and impartial because they have a stake in their partner’s career success.
In situations of isolation, it’s great to work one-on-one with a professional coach or mentor. However, this is not always possible, practical, or financially feasible. An alternative that works well is peer coaching.
You can continue reading — and take a survey assessing whether there is a demand for peer coaching services – here if you think you might be interested in peer coaching related to international development.
I know I could have used a similar service when I spent eight months living in Antananarivo in 2004 when I collected the data for my dissertation. My wife — we had just gotten engaged back then — did get an earful, and she was very supportive. But when she left the US for Togo and it cost us $6 a minute to talk on the phone all of a sudden, we both lost our sources of support, and peer coaching would have been helpful.