In this issue
Going it alone
John Crew highlights the issues that affect the establishment of a private practice, and recalls some of the ups and downs of more than 20 years as an independent practitioner
Reflections on private practice
Robert Bor and Anne Stokes reflect on their lives in independent practice
Minding our own business
Heather Dale considers how information technology can be both a help and a hindrance
Walking the tightrope
Máire O’Donnell and Kate Vallance discuss their desire to empower their students whilst attending to the tasks of contracting and assessment
2011 BACP Awards
Research resource from BACP
From the chair
From the editor
As this is my first issue in the editor’s chair, it seems apposite to make it all about beginnings. So although I realise that many readers will already be well established in the business of independent practice, this issue includes a selection of personal reflections from practitioners on the ups and downs of going it alone, as well as some important practical and ethical considerations for those just starting out.
For members who weren’t able to make the Association for Independent Practitioners annual conference in London on 25 March 2011, this issue includes edited versions of two presentations given on that day. John Crew offers some essential guidance on setting up and working in private practice, which I hope will be useful for new beginners as well as beneficial for established independent practitioners as it provides timely reminders about important practical and ethical issues as well as signposts to the latest resource tools from BACP.
Heather Dale, a self-confessed techno-junkie who gave the keynote conference address in March, writes about the delights and dangers of information technology in independent practice, highlighting the ethical issues we all need to bear in mind when engaging with IT in our work, and emphasising how we need to take care of our businesses and ourselves.
As several of the contributors to this issue testify, the business of independent practice can be risky and isolating. Ours is a financially insecure career path with long, unsociable hours and considerable and taxing emotional demands. Anne Stokes and Robert Bor – who collectively have almost half a century of experience as independent practitioners between them – look back on their careers and address how they have met and managed some of these challenges. Their personal and frank reflections will I hope prove both inspiring and comforting. Some of their thoughts might even raise a few eyebrows! I’d love to hear your own reflections and hope the Letters page might become a lively forum for debate and exchange of ideas in future issues.
Finally, continuing with the theme of beginnings, Máire O’Donnell and Kate Vallance contribute a thought-provoking article on supervising trainees at the very beginning of their clinical practice. In the early days, a trainee’s lack of self-awareness can potentially be dangerous to clients and the combination of a vulnerable, disempowered client and a student who feels incompetent and lacking in confidence can be an accident waiting to happen. Enabling students to grow into self-directed, reflective practitioners, Máire and Kate write, whilst retaining supervisory responsibility for maintaining quality and safety for their clients, can sometimes prove to be a challenging tightrope to walk.
For those already established in independent practice, I hope these pages might facilitate your own personal reflections on the successes and inevitable failures you encounter in your work. For those who, like me, are currently in the process of taking their first tentative and anxious steps into private practice or standing on the brink preparing to jump into the unknown, hopefully there’s solace to be sought in knowing you are not alone, although it might sometimes feel that way.