As a service head, I've been reflecting on the idea of the current emotional temperature. In Northern Ireland, counselling is emerging, blinking into a different world, and mental health worries are being discussed openly in a new way. I remind myself that what we worry about now is not the whole story, as worries grow bigger in darkness and isolation. I'm currently thinking about two big ideas from our profession.

Lockdown is ending for us all, and that may be playing out as an emotional metaphor as well. I see around me people acting in ways that aren't always 'like themselves'. There is a much more emotionally free atmosphere, with people beginning to talk and act in ways that are exhibiting their supressed reactions to the anxiety, losses and strain from the last year. The emotional lockdown is breaking down and feelings are breaking through. I think it is helpful to frame this using two ideas from counselling.

One is borrowed from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is that we are now having to make yet another adjustment to another huge life change, out of lockdown into a more uncertain future. We need to encourage one another that even if it is scary, we can manage it by being compassionate to ourselves and to one another and extending communication and support. This has been a frightening and traumatic year. We are still in foggier seas than we would like to be, but we can support one another to get to a calmer and perhaps more familiar place together, whether in private practice, personal life, school, or community work. We need to keep talking, caring, shouting out directions, support and encouragement to one another until we land in a 'new normal' way of being.

The other is about acceptance. We long to get past this, but we can't rush it. So, as we accept where we are, let us use this time to reflect about what acceptance of change means. Let's keep talking about what we have learned about the human need to reach out and find support and a space to be heard. In our work, let's take time to reflect on what we need to recover and celebrate our resilience in getting this far – together. Let's celebrate our young people, who are amazing in every way. In our work, in school services and in our mapping for the future, let’s plan to keep alive the idea that human connection is central to our work with children and young people, and that healing and growth can come even after the most difficult of experiences, if we create the right conditions.

So, my three hopes for the future are that we learn to care for ourselves better; in learning to care for ourselves, we can care better for others; and let’s allow time and space to grieve, accept, recover and learn how to be more fruitful in our professional lives.