From the Editor
As the news footage from Ukraine becomes ever more shocking and disturbing, it feels wrong that we should continue to go about our everyday lives when people are being bombed in their homes and the bodies of their loved ones lie in the streets. As individuals, we can contribute to aid initiatives, which I am sure many BACP members have done. But is there something else we could – and should – be doing as a profession in the face of global emergencies such as these? It’s a question that was tackled by several of the most prominent practitioners and academics from our profession in a recent conference to raise emergency relief funds for Ukraine, jointly held by Roehampton University and Onlinevents. The content of many of the presentations forms the basis of our ‘Big issue’ this month, a challenging but ultimately hopeful report that I hope will help support your thinking about what you can do. It also explores an equally important consideration for us – how we protect ourselves and our clients from the emotional impact of a global threat via rolling news reports and graphic images on social media. Don’t miss that article from Catherine Jackson.
How we can help clients heal after traumatic events is also explored in our ‘Presenting issues’ feature. ‘The aftermath of traumatic loss’ is based on a conversation between therapists Sue Wright and Liz Rolls about Rolls’ research into the impact on families of bereavement through military action. Although it was written long before the Ukraine crisis, it seems more timely than ever. I was struck by many of their observations, including the power of the ‘ordinary’ – small, seemingly mundane rituals like a shared cup of tea – to encourage healing from trauma.
Elsewhere in this issue, we look at what is arguably every therapist’s worst nightmare – being on the receiving end of a client complaint. It is a tribute to most therapists’ commitment to working ethically that complaints leading to Professional Conduct hearings are still rare, but many more could be avoided if therapists knew how to properly respond when a client first raises their dissatisfaction with their therapy experience. In our ‘In practice’ piece this month, BACP’s Acting Registrar John O’Dowd talks us through the process and offers advice for both avoiding and dealing with client complaints. I would also like to thank Matthew Campling for sharing his personal experience of how he coped when a complaint came out of the blue from a former client.
And on the subject of complaints, we received many emails in response to the ‘Opinion’ piece in the March edition. As the authors explain, questioning the efficacy of EMDR and polyvagal-based approaches was not the focus of the article, and they stand by their views expressed in it. However, I would like to personally extend an apology to all therapists who felt attacked and undermined by this piece. I have been impressed by the strength of conviction that many EMDR therapists have communicated in their emails. We will be running an exploration of EMDR by an experienced practitioner in an upcoming issue and would welcome a similar submission on polyvagal therapy.
As ever, I welcome your emails and feedback on specific articles. It’s your membership magazine and we care about getting it right, so don’t miss your chance to share your views by completing the Therapy Today survey that will be emailed to you this month.
Sally Brown, Editor
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Katherine Frankham writes our client column
Pet therapy: Do animals have a place in the therapy room?
Is it OK to end work with a client because you don’t like them?
Elizabeth Turp speaks for herself