After a move from London, and three years growing a private practice in Broadstairs, Kent, I began to yearn for a bit more contact with fellow professionals. I was home-based and felt quite isolated really and just didn’t know many people who were therapists. I'd been hoping someone else would set something up, but they didn’t, so I did. After provisional conversations with other therapists, I sensed that some were looking for more informal peer supervision than a networking group.
But I persisted, and after some research, found that BACP would support regional groups – both in terms of hiring a meeting space, handling bookings and payments, and even the distribution of CPD certificates.
Finding a venue was a challenge at the start. It was a kind of Catch 22 situation. I didn’t know how many people would come, so I didn’t know how big a room to get. In the end, I settled on a space at the Ann Robertson Centre in Canterbury, whose profits fund a local hospice charity.
I can recall how the first meeting secured a fair bit of interest with attendees being able to pre-book a place for just £5, and the day was a success even though there were some people who couldn't attend. We recorded a list of attendees during the meeting so BACP could produce CPD certificates.
From the first meeting, the group discussed ideas and topics that could be covered in future meetings. And I also invited the group to think about guidelines for how the meetings would run. We wanted to establish boundaries within the group. What was appropriate to share, both about client work and about ourselves. We wanted to make sure everyone understood the confidentiality terms within the group. And how we, as a group, ensured that everyone felt they had a voice.
The format of the meetings has grown from there and typically start with a chance for people to talk and share how work is going. This is followed by a presentation or a discussion of one of the topics: these could be clinical (for example, domestic abuse or the autistic spectrum) or more practical (such as aspects of marketing, fees or payments). Two of the more frequent attendees, John Lake and Jeremy Goodman, share the task of writing up the meeting notes for circulation.
During lockdown, the group migrated to Zoom, and attendance was opened up for UK-wide attendees. We hope to return to some in-person meetings in the future.
Find out more details about regional network meetings and book your place.
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.