Many moons ago and early in my professional life as a counsellor, I recall female clients quietly telling me that they were going through ‘the change’. I’m sorry to say that I can also recall the accompanying sense of unease I felt. In my defence, I don’t think the unease was just about my relative inexperience as a counsellor or that I was a much younger woman then and the menopause seemed to be a distant dystopia that might never happen. Instead, I think it was a reflection of a wider societal discomfort and shame that women can feel about the menopause, loss and all that is associated with ageing and decline.
Now, as a menopausal woman myself, I’m relieved that the tone of conversations about this particular life transition are not nearly quite so hushed. In fact, they’ve grown to be quite loud, with increasing numbers of women in public life speaking out about systemic inadequacies in the health service and failings in menopause support which face over half the UK population. Helen Kewell writes this issue’s lead article, ‘Making sense of the menopause’, and questions how well therapists and employers are supporting women with this phase of life. It’s a question that’s pertinent to practitioners too, given the telling statistic that 73% of therapists are women and the majority are over the age of 50 – just how well are we negotiating this stage of life for ourselves?
Keeping with the theme of change, I talk to Vianna Boring Renaud, our new BACP Workplace Chair, about her work, hopes and plans for the division as she takes over from Julie Hughes. You can read what Vianna has to say in ‘My workplace’. Elsewhere, former headteacher Juliette Moxham writes about how and why she took early retirement from her primary school and is now training to become a counsellor.
Reading Juliette’s article, I was transported back to the years I spent as a trainee counsellor, the fruitful and painful unpeeling of layers and the constant investment of time, energy and money. I’m keen to hold a space in these pages for the voices and needs of trainees and newly qualified counsellors, so if you have ideas about what you would like to read in BACP Workplace, please drop me a line.
As we head into the darker months, one change that’s to be welcomed is the increased acceptance in circles beyond the therapeutic community that a safe, facilitated, reflective space is a protective factor for employees against stress, overload and burnout. Sarah Markham, Teresa Jennings and Steph Brunsden explain how a small pilot project for a team of nurses has made such a big impact and helped to build both resilience and compassion.
I hope you enjoy this issue.
Editor, BACP Workplace