There’s an adage that suggests ‘age is just a number’ – I disagree; as will countless children, young people and families as we enter another September. Thousands of 16 and 18-year-olds across the UK picked up their GCSE and A-level results last month, informing their transitions to the next stage of their lives. Many five-year-olds are beginning school, and most 18-year-olds (16 in Scotland) will have finished compulsory education and be embarking, for the first time, on something they have chosen to do.
These milestones punctuate the lives of most children and young people because of the year they were born. We know from personal and professional experience that transitions arouse feelings of loss, uncertainty, trepidation and nervous anticipation, evoking experiences of previous [unresolved] losses. We know too, that transitions often precipitate referrals to counselling and psychotherapy, and most of us will encounter a surge as September arrives.
This September issue has a ‘back to school’ feel, threaded, as it is, with articles about counselling in schools. Jennifer Pitt says there are Reasons to be cheerful as she shares her experience of how education and counselling can sit together in an emotionally healthy school and, in a similar vein, Sophia Friedrich explains how being part of the integrated local authority offer can make school counselling better for everyone in When working together works. Taking a different perspective, David Cook cautions against perceiving school counsellors as wise and powerful in Killing the Buddha, while Linda-Jayne Elliott stresses the importance of The secondary relationship with families of children with special educational needs and also talks about Transitions in her new, regular school counselling column. Readers embarking on counselling or psychotherapy training this term will be stimulated by Sue Kegerreis’ column, Doing training their way, which might also prompt professionals with all levels of experience to ponder their attitudes and motivations towards continued professional development.
Those of us who attended BACP’s CYPF conference in March 2023, as part of our own professional development, were gripped by Claire Harrison-Breed’s opening keynote. I was enthralled by her take on developmental trauma, delivered in an accessible, easy-to-listen-to style, and signed her up on the spot to write an article for our journal. The result is this month’s featured article, The impossible dilemma: when seeking safety is dangerous, in which Claire guides us through the process of infant development, attachment, dissociation, trauma and trauma-informed care, in an equally accessible and easy-to-read style. Also in this issue, Jane Langley shares early findings from her research on phantasy sibling transference with only-child clients in a fascinating article The only-child in therapy and Sarah Haywood challenges misapprehensions and inaccurate beliefs about autism, based on her own experience of assessment and diagnosis, in Different not deficient.
Eighteen is thought of as the time when a child legally becomes an adult, but we know from our own experience, and that of the children and young people we work with, that 18 is an arbitrary cutoff point, and emotional, social, psychological and physical development continues into our mid-20s (at least). I’ve noticed that the ‘young people’ and ‘families’ parts of CYPF are under-represented in our journal and I’m keen to commission articles from readers with experience of working with older adolescents, and with families too. Whatever your preferred client group and theoretical discipline, and whether you are school-based or not, I think you will find plenty in this September issue – which, incidentally, is my 18th at the helm – to whet your appetite.
Get in touch
If you would like to write a response to anything in this issue, or wish to write a review or submit an article for consideration, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how. Please do not send unsolicited articles.
Jeanine Connor, Editor