Patricia and Adam Discuss
2013 is shaping up to be an exciting and memorable year. The warmest, driest and sunniest year since 2006 has shone a golden glow over the arrival of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the Bank of England’s decision to allow Jane Austen’s face on a bank note (massive round of applause for @CCraidoPerez and @TheWomens Room), and Britain winning the Tour De France and The Ashes . As the warmth of these hazy days is ushered out by an autumn chill at least we can look forward to some more imaginative TV scheduling and if that fails to engage there’s always the brand spanking new IPSIG website.
P: Excited Adam?
A: Thrilled, Patricia!
P: So we have agreed to share blogging duties, which is a departure from the more traditional single author blog. As a former supervisee of yours we are used to sharing and I am in the happy position of having enjoyed a professional and personal relationship with you for nearly fifteen years. I reckon I have a pretty good sense of the kind of therapist and person you are. I could be the Cher to your Sonny, or the Marie to your Donny. Bear with me, I’ve got at least half a dozen of these….
For members who may not have had the privilege can you say something about yourself and your practice, what it is that motivates you to use this medium, and what members can expect from your postings?
A: OK, I’ve been in independent practice for just over twenty years here on Anglesey. Somebody called me a maverick the other day. I think they meant it in a friendly way, and I know what they mean. I like being on the edge of things looking in. I just seem to find myself adopting the role of a critical friend, and that’s the position I’ll be writing my share of the blog posts from. In my therapy and teaching, I like to create the sense of a work in progress: something that’s a pretty good fit but where there is still some wriggle room for adapting to changing circumstances or new perspectives. The blog world seems to have that ethos too. What about you?
P: Well, for myself, the opportunity to contribute to the blog is timely. I have been in full time private practice for 14 years and during the last five I have been trying to find ways to reclaim an ambition to develop my writing skills. A love of English and reading as a child was never fully developed, and a desire to pursue a career in journalism was thwarted by life and events. Developing my role on the Editorial team of CBT Today has provided an opportunity to write and source copy and increased confidence in a belief that either I’ll have something interesting to say or I’ll know someone else who does. I am hoping that the IP-SIG blog will help to build and strengthen relationships amongst our community as well as entertain and inform. As with CBT Today I will maintain my core interest in all things art and culture and what it tells us about being human.
A: Yes, we both try to dovetail our professional commitment to evidence-based practice and being scientist-practitioners with an equal commitment to therapy as art and craft, don’t we?
P: We do. We’ve agreed to take it in turn to post something every fortnight providing commentary on what we consider to be relevant subjects. Where do you think you will get your inspiration from?
A: I have one of those minds that is never still, Patricia! I am always thinking about something and I find whatever that thing is tends then to become incorporated into thinking about my practice work. I find that material generated by thoughts on topics seemingly unconnected to therapy generates metaphors and analogies for the consulting room. Like you, I am very interested in “culture”, both our own and that of other people across history. I am struck by how much mental health and mental health treatments can be understood as cultural artefacts. For example, who swoons these days? Women in Freud’s time seemed to swoon all of the time. What was that about?
P: Tight corsets, maybe? My problem would be choosing what to focus on! I joined the Twittersphere over a year ago and, honestly, I find it the single most useful social networking service. Not only that but the links to professionally relevant material are invaluable. Obviously you have to choose who you follow wisely but my top tip would be to follow The Guardian newspaper, @ guardian. They’ve invested hugely in developing their on-line service and app and the coverage of health and social issues, not to mention arts and culture, is very impressive. My e-mail in box is routinely full of links I’ve forwarded from Twitter but I probably only get time to chase up 50%. Perhaps I have FOMO ( fear of missing out). Although as I type this now in my office with a gloriously blue and cloudless sky tempting me outside I am experiencing FOMOOTS ( Fear of missing out on the sun)!
A: Well, if FOMO isn’t a cultural artefact, and sign of our times, what is?
P: Good point, well made! As is traditional with blogs, we wish to encourage comment and feedback, and hope that our postings will be something that members look forward to reading. I recently attended a Masterclass run by The Guardian (naturally) on how to write and sustain a column, which was presented by three of their regular columnists. The audience were really keen to hear how they dealt with criticism. The responses varied. One columnist whose ‘voice’ I particularly admire simply never responds to comments and the satirical piece she wrote a few years ago which resulted in a libel case brought by a litigious Elton John, was dealt with by the papers lawyers. Elton lost. Her colleagues reported that they might respond to a few posted comments but all explained that there was limited time and value in extended interaction, and actually they had to turn their attention to the next column. Obviously we want to avoid being sued, so what should our approach be? For example, would it be controversial to say, “ I enjoy going to the BABCP National conference but I couldn’t eat a whole one. I tried once and was very nearly sick”.
A: Er, wouldn’t that count as just being truthful?
P: Being a human is challenging. Being a human therapist is very challenging, and being a therapist in private practice has its own particular challenges. It’s not, as you might have been led to believe, all filter coffee, leather sofas and tasteful art work on the walls.
In fact for me, it’s none of these things…
… unless you count the National Gallery purchased, ‘Child holding a dove poster’ stuck with blue tack and curling at the edges above my desk.
Oh, and I have a lovely double page picture of a Mummy gorilla holding her infant. Ridiculously lovely.
Just like Baby Gorilla and Baby George we all need support.
My hope for the IPSIG website and blog is that we will cultivate an irresistible coalescence of informed commentary and good humour, and that in return we will be rewarded with laughter, love and loyalty *jokes* And yourself?
A: Well, as with a bad therapy or training day, I’ll settle for getting out alive, but reciprocated amusing and informing would be great.
By the way, good that you clarified for our readers the pic wasn’t one of your family snaps, Patricia.
Patricia Murphy and Adam May
IPSIG Web & Training Coordinator