Presenter: Sarah Worley-James
Title: Lessons from Covid: The Way Forward
From my conversations and reading over the last year, it is clear we have all experienced the COVID-19 pandemic in a myriad of ways. Ways that have changed at different points as the pandemic has affected us more closely, or offered opportunities to reflect and engage with life, and work, differently. Many of these changes have been imposed and unwelcome, others chosen as a response to cope with, and gain a semblance of control over what is not in our control.
Approaching the topic of lessons we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, my first thought was that my voice is just one, and if I was to just share my journey, experiences and learning for the future, it may not resonate or seem relevant to what your life has been like over the past year. I want to offer this platform to other voices and perspectives, some of which I hope will echo your own experiences, thoughts and responses.
I also intend to share experiences from the supervisor perspective, as many of you will provide supervision as well as counselling or therapy, a role which will have affected you in different ways.
This presentation is intended as the start of a conversation about how the pandemic has affected us and what we can begin to learn as we slowly move to forward to the likely new balance of hybrid or blended working. For me, lessons related to self-care and supervision are a key area to focus on.
I became interested in online counselling when I joined Cardiff University’s counselling team in 2009, thinking that as digital natives, students would be a natural population to value it. As I developed the online service, I soon realised that many diverse groups benefit from and want online counselling.
My fascination with online counselling, and training with Jane Evans, an online pioneer and founder of ACTO, led me to join ACTO’s board and connect to other like-minded counsellors and therapists.
Having advocated for more understanding and use of online counselling for many years, I welcomed the opportunity that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic to introduce more counsellors and therapists to the creative potential for online therapy to reach out to those struggling with their mental health at a time when face to face services were forced to close for long periods.
In addition to counselling and therapy, I am passionate about supervision, and the importance of online trained supervisors providing this for online counsellors.
One wonderful surprise I have found in working online is how possible it is to work with the body, feeling a real connection and sense of each other’s presence, even when working through text based medium.