We are emerging from a winter of discontent, bleary-eyed, with a dose of apprehensive anticipation, to go (for some) with a dose (or two) of vaccine. Our experience this spring feels more closely aligned than usual to the natural world’s familiar cycle of hibernation and re-awakening than some of us would have chosen or have felt comfortable with. I say ‘some’ because, for others, and for many children and young people, lockdown has provided a welcome break from the school, work and social pressures of the world as it was pre pandemic.
In this issue, Dr Marilyn McGowan uses non-fiction narrative to explore lessons learned during COVID-19 in Cometh the hour. Scott Eastwood examines the research evidence relating to test anxiety and asks what school-based counsellors can do to support young people in Testing times; while Professor Mick Cooper shares findings from ETHOS, the largest study to date to pose questions about What’s going on in school counselling?.
Counsellors and psychotherapists have an endless curiosity about other people, and a desire, perhaps more so now than ever, to feel a sense of connection. With that in mind, I’m delighted to include even more new readers’ voices in this issue. Following publication of a letter, written in response to a previous article, Parenting a disabled child (December 2020), Emma Foley accepted my invitation to write about her own experiences of Working holistically with learning disabilities. Declan Harrigan shares his honest and moving experience of losing a client to suicide in You can’t stop the waves….
In the first of a new series, Introducing…Yvonne Fernandez traces her 50-year (and counting) career back to the most unlikely of sources – Norman Wisdom! Our featured article is by David Curl, a reader I ‘met’ while editing reviews, and invited to contribute to our journal. He tempts us to recall our adolescence as we watch Coming-of-age films, something he and his colleagues did during a virtual film club, set up during lockdown to maintain morale and a sense of shared purpose among staff at a pupil referral unit.
Speaking of coming of age, the first babies of the new millennium are turning 21 this year, which hardly seems possible, does it? On a personal note, I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday this summer. I’m usually at the ‘not very much’ end of the self-disclosure spectrum, but this significant milestone has got me thinking. When I first started working with young people, 25 years ago, I wasn’t much older than them. Then came the stage of being the same age as their parents, and now, for some, their grandparents! It’s a sobering thought.
People have frequently said to me that I look younger than my age, which is usually offered as a compliment, but I’ve often heard it as, ‘You don’t look old enough to be… [insert whatever it is I’m doing at the time]’, and consequently, I’ve sometimes felt affronted rather than flattered. To quote the recent Twitter hashtag, ‘This is what a therapist looks like’, and I’ve updated my editorial photo to illustrate what this therapist looks like, today. As counsellors, psychotherapists, supervisors, trainers and presenters, assumptions will inevitably be made about us, based on how we look. I’m curious to hear your experiences of expectations based on your (perceived) age, gender, size, ethnicity, disability, style of dress or other aspect of your outward appearance. Get in touch; let’s have our own ‘This is what a therapist looks like’ feature. And perhaps include a photo.
Jeanine Connor, Editor