Looking Forward, Looking Back – 2022

The featured image shows the tree at Sycamore Gap, a large tree between two hills, with the remains of the Roman Wall running along the hillside.

At the turn of the year I always write a review of the previous 12 months, focusing on the highlights and highpoints. It began as a challenge to imposter syndrome and has morphed into a challenge to those very tools of oppression which tell those who are margenlised to be silent. When this intersects with those attitudes towards women and people assigned female at birth even mentioning accomplishments can feel like a transgression, a broken taboo. It is in order to challenge this policing of celebration that these yearly posts continue.

There is an added barrier this New Year, the strangeness of time, and the impact of the pandemic. Many have written about how trauma affects our time sense, and the trauma of the lockdowns, of govermental gaslighting, and fears and hopes combining in a mess of stress has left many with chronological brain fog. So, forgive me if something significant missing, or misplaced in the timeline. Sometimes it feels like it is still 2020, with statues looming out of the fog for a moment.

Spring

Spring was a time of uncertainity, for me as for so many. Without good guidence, knowing what was safe and what was not became a struggle of sourcing relable information. This did however give me time to develop my supervision practice, reading more widely on anti oppressive practice and supervision, and write, this year has had more time and space for poetry, and that is never a bad thing.

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by the Therapists Connect project and appearing on their podcast. Long form conversations allow so much space for connection and nuance, and seem very fitting for therapists.

I was able to connect also in trainings, my own on working with kink, and in attending others, still online, but the learning and interaction with colleagues outweighed the zoom fatigue I think we were all feeling by this point.

Summer

Summer saw the realisation of a long held ambition, to improve the experience of sex workers and those with sex work histories in therapy. This has to start with training. many therapists are unware of their assumptions, prejudices, and unconcious bias when it comes to sex work. I was delighted with how engaged and thoughtful the Pink Therapy students I taught were, and the unit is also available for self study here.

Summer also saw the publication of my book chapter; They needed Counselling, in the Academic Archers publication Fandom Culture and The Archers, an everyday story of academic folk. In the chapter I explored the barriers for rural people accessing therapy, via a discussion of three characters, and how their own intersecting axis of oppression and privildge as well as their geographical location disadvantaged them. It was a strange circle to complete, as presenting the paper at the Academic Archers conference in 2020 was the last event of “before times” for me – a strange world where we talked of newspaper stories and wondered if we needed to wash our hands more.

The summer also saw me taking time to switch off, walking the Roman Wall, loosing myself in the history and majesty of a landscape which never ceases to bring awe and wonder. You might recognise the tree, I chose one of the iconic images of Northumberland for my logo, Sycamore Gap. Walking there transports you to a landscape the Romans would still recognise.

Autumn

In a strange reversal of the natural order Autumn felt like a time of movement and change. I was responsible for the online side of the Pink Therapy Annual Conference – a fully blended event, which I felt comfortable enough to attend in person, but was so pleased that those more at risk were not yet again being overlooked. One of the themes of 2022 seems to have been the quick forgetfulness of access gains made when able bodied people had to lockdown and experience some of the barriers disabled people live with day in and day out. It was wonderful to be back among friends, colleagues and peers, and meet in person some of those I had connected with over the past three years.

This autumn also saw the release of the On Becoming a GSRD therapist podcast, where Dominic Davies and I explored life, the universe and everything, he even granted me three wishes!

Winter

Again in what feels like a reversal of the natural order, Winter, even though it is only half way over as I write this, has been a time of productive and harvesting. My chapter in Queering Psychotherapy filled me with such pride, it still feels unbelievable to see my name among such esteemed company. The online book launch and celebration, attended by so many therapists encourages me to believe their is a real thirst for the change we know has to come. And, just this January I will be teaching at The Minster Center, hopefully making a space where queering psychotherapy moves from the page, into the practice of future therapists.

I was also exceptionally honoured to be asked to become a Pink Therapy Clinical Associate. This next chapter of my own life feels to be one full of rich harvests and opportunities to build on the work already done to make therapy safe, accessible and anti oppressive.

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