I’ve never forgotten the words of one of my counselling tutors who, many moons ago, would regularly remind us trainees to: "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." I don’t recall if these were his wise words or someone else’s, but they’re not a bad guide to life – and not just for life as a therapist. Yet it’s rare to see this mantra applied on social media, where division and hostility spread like wildfire, fuelled by technology never really designed to aid human understanding.
This may be one reason why there was such an appetite for BACP’s recent Working with transitioning in the workplace conference, which sold out. I’m aware that covering the issue of how trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people experience the world of work is long overdue in BACP Workplace, as research suggests that these marginalised employees experience poorer mental health, due to stigma and prejudice, and trans people have a higher risk of suicide.
It's been my pleasure to work with the three speakers Jack Jackson, Karen Pollock and Joanne Lockwood, who each offer a different perspective as the client, counsellor and the organisation. Jack Jackson writes a moving account of how he became his authentic self with unflinching honesty in Becoming Jack. But Jack’s story is also an uplifting one; of love, acceptance and joy.
Specialising in working with gender-diverse clients, Karen Pollock wants to give counsellors the confidence to work with this client group too. Her article, Working with gender-diverse clients, cautions us about thinking that we need to be experts. We just need to do what we do with every other client – to meet the person in front of us and offer them Carl Rogers’ core conditions.
In Inclusion, it’s everyone’s responsibility Joanne Lockwood, an inclusion and belonging specialist, explores how employers can help their employees who are transitioning: before, during and after.
One key message from these three articles is that for gender-diverse and trans employees, a supportive manager, friendly colleagues, good mental health support and an open respectful workplace culture can literally be a life saver.
Elsewhere, Letesia Gibson asks: ‘How can we improve psychological safety at work? in Race matters, as she reflects on what progress has been made with regard to inclusion and anti-racism at work.
Julia Foren features in My workplace and talks to me about leading a staff counselling service which supports over 6,000 NHS Trust employees. She explains that being both a therapist and the leader of a counselling service is a demanding and complex task, and suggests ways that BACP could better support its members who fulfil these dual roles.
If you’re working with a client who’s in the process of clearing the house of a loved one after a death, you won’t want to miss Jane Moffett’s article, aptly named Clearing the house. I’ve reached the age where I and everyone around me seems to be engaged in this painful rite of passage and I’m not sure the toll it takes is fully understood.
And finally, if you wish to deepen your understanding of the world of work, I hope you’ll read my interview with Gabriella Braun about her fascinating new book, All That We Are. It’s all about why we behave the way we do at work – I was spellbound.
I hope you enjoy this issue.
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BACP Workplace division
BACP Workplace promotes and supports the professional practice of counselling in the workplace, and practitioners who have clients experiencing workplace concerns.
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