Should therapists use dating apps? What should you do if a client ‘matches’ with you, or tells you in a session that they came across your profile? And how can we create an honest and open profile that conveys a sense of our personality and interests – with pictures! – and, at the same time, not self-disclose? These are some of the dilemmas that Paul Mollitt discusses in ‘We need to talk about dating’, our ‘Best practice’ feature in this issue. He talked to fellow practitioners about their experiences of online dating and found that many came to the conclusion that it’s simply easier not to use dating apps, while being aware that the cost may be reduced chances of meeting someone. Paul concludes that dating is ‘somewhat taboo’ among therapists: ‘There is an assumption that we should all be in settled, harmonious relationships, given our role.’ In the article, Paul shares how online dating impacted his professional life before meeting his husband, and I’d like thank him for that generosity.
Along with Paul’s piece, I am delighted to showcase in this issue some of our LGBTQ+ members’ views and experiences, in celebration of Pride Month, including Tyler Hatwell, who answers our ‘Analyse me’ questions. Tyler’s family of Travelling Showmen have run fairs since the 1800s. After qualifying as a therapist, he founded Traveller Pride, a network that provides guidance, support and information to make life easier for LGBTQ+ Travellers. As Tyler says, ‘Travellers are a group that have some of the worst health outcomes in the country, and LGBTQ+ Travellers in particular are at higher risk of suicide, self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse.’ The Hatwell family’s waltzers are pictured, at Chipping Norton Mop Fair, from the National Fairground and Circus Archive.
Our ‘Big issue’ this month is a report into hidden trauma in the gay community by Matthew Todd, former editor of Attitude magazine, whose book, Straight Jacket: overcoming society’s legacy of gay shame, published in 2016, helped to break the culture of silence on gay trauma, unhappiness and substance misuse. His report includes how the therapeutic community helps – and, at times, hinders – recovery from that trauma. And our ‘Core concepts’ article in this issue, ‘Compassion and the queer community’, is an exploration of the power of self-compassion to help overcome shame, written by Jen Tomkinson, who discusses why it can be hard for LGBTQ+ people to be kind to themselves.
As I write, the countdown towards the end of COVID restrictions is on, and ‘normality’ is in sight. But much remains unknown about the long-lasting impact of the virus on our physical and mental health. One little-known side effect for those who have ended up in intensive care, according to member Laura Barnett, could be disturbing nightmares. She explores how therapy can help patients make sense of the ICU experience in her article ‘Dreams, hallucinations and delirium’.
And in our ‘Self-care’ slot this issue, Sam Milford makes such a convincing case for the therapeutic benefits of open water swimming that I was (almost) tempted to give it a try. Even if, like me, you are too wimpy to brave a dip in the English Channel, it’s an illuminating read about the connections between the natural world and our mental wellbeing.
As always, I hope you find something in this issue that supports your practice or captures your imagination. I would love to hear your feedback.
‘It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the BACP Board consists of 10 very different people from various backgrounds, who share a passion for counselling and psychotherapy ’
Julie May on her role
‘It was amazing to know that someone was listening’
Josh Hepple writes our client column
Special practice: What equips us to work with the LGBTQ+ community?
Confidentiality: Our ethics team considers this month's dilemmas
How does supervision compare with counselling and psychotherapy?
Tyler Hatwell speaks for himself