In this issue
Life after redundancy
Jenny Rogers offers advice to counsellors working with clients facing redundancy in today’s tough economic climate
Elizabeth Cotton describes how she turned the accounts of hundreds of employees into the Surviving Work Library, a free online resource with over 13,000 subscribers
A question of evidence
Does what we do make a difference and, if it does, does this effect last? Jill Collins asked this of her university counselling service and got a very positive response
The work is out there
Val Allen separates the myths from the realities of finding paid counselling work
The bigger picture
Rick Hughes on the latest workplace news
Workplace matters (free article)
Dr Sandi Mann – rolling with the punches
Cyberwork (free article)
Dr Kate Anthony – bouncing back
Inside the organisation
Marc Lopatin talks to Counselling at Work
Developing resilience was a core theme that ran through my first issue as editor of Counselling at Work. It was winter 2012 and the climate of cuts was being felt acutely by clients, counsellors and services, all reeling from the impact of the austerity measures on job security and the threat to the continued provision of counselling services. Since then, the need for all staff to be resilient has become an unquestioned norm and it’s impossible to imagine a time when we won’t all need personal resilience in spadefuls.
All the articles featured in this issue reflect this backdrop and stem from a prevailing climate of austerity that requires a resilient response from us as individuals and/or on behalf of the services we provide, and a survival strategy. Given this, the frequency with which ‘resilience’ features in this issue is unsurprising.
The cover article, ‘Life after redundancy’, is written by coach Jenny Rogers, who draws on her wealth of experience working one-to-one with clients going through the redundancy process. She asks: ‘Have you ever known a recession where the impact on the culture in our organisations has been quite so savage?’ before illustrating it with some particularly brutal examples devoid of empathy. How the redundancy is handled, can be a factor in how well an individual is able to recover and ultimately move on. Flagging up the vital role of workplace practitioners to short-circuit some of the misery caused by redundancy, Jenny provides a practical guide on how best to assist clients to attend to the loss cycle, address their own blind spots and face the future.
Taking an alternative path when faced with redundancy, Elizabeth Cotton, specialist in employment relations and mental health at work, explains in her article how blogging helped her and led her to create the Surviving Work Library. Using social media, Elizabeth recorded podcasts of the everyday experiences of staff (particularly those in mental health) about how they survive work. Her bleak observation is: ‘One of the most striking things about these interviews is that most of us spend long periods at work feeling totally dehumanised, and with this comes isolation.’ As we well know, there’s an antidote to this, and Elizabeth notes that the most consistent piece of advice from contributors was that talking to the right person helps.
In ‘The bigger picture’, Rick Hughes, BACP Lead Advisor, Workplace comments that being resilient in today’s workplace ‘also means standing up to cuts, holding firm with the belief behind what we do and the evidence of the human and cost benefits emerging from our services’. It was this imperative that led author Jill Collins to conduct some research into the difference that the counselling service made to the wellbeing of staff at Cambridge University. Asking a simple question, ‘Does what we do make a difference and, if so, does the effect last?’, Jill adds to the evidence base of the benefits of workplace counselling and shares her team’s findings.
You may recall that Hilary Green aired some of the taxing issues she sees facing our profession in the Winter 2014 issue of Counselling at Work, including the increasing numbers of counsellors being trained, the lack of paid jobs and the need to cap voluntary work. On a mission to find someone to address these valid concerns, my thanks go to Val Allen who stepped forward and offers her perspective in ‘The work is out there’. While acknowledging that finding work is far from easy, Val demystifies some of the commonly held myths and misconceptions.
And finally, thank you to Marc Lopatin, our interviewee for ‘Inside the organisation’, who talked to me about an innovative approach that’s being piloted to bring lawyers and mediators together with the aim to reduce the emotional and financial fallout for divorcing couples. Citing a compelling reason for employer and EAP engagement, Marc explains some research into family breakdown undertaken by the University of Essex, which shows that it takes two years for wellbeing to normalise or return to pre-separation levels.
While I was writing these words an email arrived, distracting me from the task in hand. It led to an exchange of emails, then a welcome phone call, and then to discussing an article on some inspirational work that’s being carried out by a small team of in-house practitioners working collaboratively despite a scarcity of resources. It’s always heartening to hear about the work you’re involved in that supports staff and contributes to a healthy workforce, so if you think you have a potential article idea or if you have thoughts on any of the articles you’ve read in Counselling at Work, please do drop me a line. I’m attending the BACP Practitioners' Conference in Leeds on 24 April, so if you’re there, do come and say hello. Last year’s event was fantastic and, from a look at the programme for 2015, we’re promised another rich day’s CPD, with the Workplace stream topically focusing on ‘trauma’ and ‘resilience’. I hope I’ll see you there.