We’re all experiencing the same storm, but we’re travelling in different boats.
I’ve read various versions of this recently, and for me it rings true in countless contexts. The phrase has been most widely applied to our experiences during lockdown. The symbolic boats – our own, as well as those of the young people and families we support – might feel strong and secure, well stocked with personal, emotional and financial resources, so that we feel as if we have everything we need. Or they might resemble rickety rowing boats, or otherwise leaky vessels at risk of collapse, placing their occupants in imminent danger. Our three regular columnists share their experiences of providing counselling, supervision and training during the ‘storm’, while Edith Bell, Sarah Edwards and Sarah Pacelli express how they have adjusted to counselling CYP through lockdown and beyond, in Counselling in the time of coronavirus: where are we now?.
Another thing contained in our ‘boats’ is our symbolic ‘baggage’. This encompasses family histories, rights (or lack of), privilege (or lack of) and unconscious biases and assumptions. In our lead article, Peter Jenkins discusses The rights of the child and reminds us that the concept of children’s rights was born out of a major humanitarian crisis, following World War I. He sets out a practical model of children’s rights and considerations for counselling. Staying with legal and ethical concerns, Amy Day discusses the guidelines for counsellors working with adoptees, and asks the question, Supporting adopted children and young people: are you qualified?.
Right now, there are two major themes at the forefront of our collective consciousness: the aftermath (we hope) of a pandemic, and racial injustice. These infiltrate our personal reflections, saturate conversations with colleagues, family and friends and permeate therapy sessions. They are part of our ‘baggage’.
In June, I sat on the panel of a webinar which posed the question: Race in therapy, do black minds matter? Awkward conversations were had and difficult feelings were shared. Discussions about racial difference can be awkward, but they are vital, perhaps more so now than ever, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Two members of BACP CYPF division contacted me to share how they have been affected. Neema Fauvrelle discusses An uncomfortable silence: inhabiting the void, while Samia Quddus explores the origins of unconscious racial bias in Tackling colour blindness.
If you have something to share about race in therapy, get in touch so that we can keep these important conversations going. Elsewhere in this issue, there’s a wide range of reads to support and stimulate. Two that struck a particular chord with me are Rethinking autism, in which Rachel Casper argues that it’s time to change the way we treat young people on the autism spectrum, and Jennifer Pitt’s exploration of the relationship between food and mood, in They are what they eat. If anything in this issue strikes a chord with you or inspires you to write an article of your own, let me know. Until next time, may you travel the storm safely.
Jeanine Connor Editor