From the Editor
Maureen Fenner, a BACP member who experienced lasting effects from contracting polio as a child, wrote to me to describe an unexpected benefit of moving to remote working – clients no longer see her ‘difference’. She described how presenting just her head and shoulders to clients on a computer screen has freed her from ‘65 years of being disabled, being judged, and having assumptions made about me and my capabilities by so many people’. Her story gave us the theme of this month’s ‘Talking point’ – what has a year of working remotely taught you? You can read Maureen’s account and the experiences of five other members in this issue.
Maureen’s experience could be seen as a rare ‘benefit’ of the pandemic lockdowns. It may seem trite to acknowledge such positives in the face of so much suffering and restriction. But, as Catherine Jackson points out in our ‘Big issue’ feature this month, the situation we have endured over the past months has revealed how resilient many of us are, including children and teenagers. Half of more than 2,000 children aged six to 16 surveyed by BBC Newsround earlier this year said that time spent during lockdown had been a better experience than normal life, or hadn’t really changed things; 24% said they felt better and 25% felt the same as usual. More than half (51%) felt they were where they should be in their schoolwork and 12% felt they were actually ahead of where they should be.
So, we should perhaps be wary of newspaper headlines predicting a ‘tsunami’ of mental health conditions in our young people or long-term problems from a disrupted education. However, many children have been adversely affected. Young people with existing mental health challenges have struggled the most, as have the most disadvantaged – and these are perennial issues that we still need to address. In her report, Catherine asks practitioners and children’s services what needs to be done to ‘build back better’ and support children’s mental wellbeing into the future.
As usual, I am grateful to the practitioners who have shared the experiences of their working lives in this issue. In our ‘Best practice’ feature, Steve Page encourages us to think ‘beyond the hedges of the counselling field’ and take our skills in supervision to other professions. I’d also like to thank Bryan Green for sharing his experience of a decade working as a therapist in various NHS services. He concludes by saying that ‘philosophically and methodologically’ he feels he has been swimming against the tide, and that the ‘colourful tapestry of therapy’ he first experienced in the NHS has become monochrome. He has now left the NHS and says he doesn’t expect to return, as he is ‘no longer qualified for many therapy positions’. See his insider’s view. If it resonates with – or differs from – your experience of working for the NHS, we’d love to hear from you.
Elsewhere, we have a thought-provoking article from Claudia Nielsen on why we need to talk about the afterlife with clients and how we go about it, and an informative look at the role of the mind in chronic pain and how therapy can help from Neill Bartlett, who has lived with a chronic pain condition for more than a decade.
I hope there is something in this issue that you will find informative, inspiring, useful or diverting. As ever, your feedback is important, so let us know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally Brown, Editor
‘Members might be forgiven for thinking an outright ban on conversion therapy already exists’
Natalie Bailey on supporting gender and sexual diversity
‘The cushion remained between us for the next few months’
Katy Wix writes our client column
Online lessons: What has working remotely taught you?
Complaints: Our ethics team considers this month's dilemmas
How long should you stay with the same supervisor?
Jennifer Knowles speaks for herself