I invariably make a scruffy entrance to a conference. As I choose to travel by bike rather than Tube I have to deal with helmet hair and a quick outfit change in the loo before collecting my delegate’s name badge.
Saturday’s annual conference for Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice was no exception: I arrived at the central London venue feeling refreshed from my ride and ready to make the most of a day filled with professional development and colleague conversations. With a new venue, new nominees for the Board and a large number of non-members (aka prospective members!) I approached this year’s conference with interest.
It was tough to choose which talks to attend, particularly with such a variety of interesting topics. So I appreciated the tweets of others across the day, serving as a sneak peek in to the variety of presentations going on. (You can check out the conversation on Twitter using #ASLTIP18). There were some interesting themes that cropped up across the day, including service development, use of digital technology and campaigning for those who need our support.
I was struck by how many therapists commented on their eagerness to apply new ideas and take action. The presentation most likely to impact my daily practice was that of the Openstorytellers. Nicola and Lara shared their approach to incorporating client’s personal narratives in to therapy.
I use a variety of prepared and evolving stories with my clients, but these rarely focus on enabling someone to share their own personal stories. And yet, these anecdotes are an important aspect of friendship and personal identity. Why not value the personal narratives of those who need our help in sharing these?
There were several talks on using social media for our professional work. It was great to see so many therapists eager to contribute to the wider conversation online. With the new Bercow Review highlighting the need for increased public awareness of communication difficulties, social media seems a small but not insignificant part of the positive action that we can all take.
I left this year’s conference feeling energised and engaged. Here in this rabbit warren of a hotel conference suite I felt genuinely connected to fellow therapists who ‘get it’: who care passionately and whole-heartedly for their clients, who seek to provide therapy that is considered, creative and comprehensive.
Looking to the future, there was mention of upcoming ASLTIP projects. With the wealth of experience and entrepreneurial spirit in the room, I look forward to seeing these plans take shape. As ASLTIP grows and evolves I’m excited to be part of this inspiring community of people. I hope that the many prospective members felt similarly inspired by the day. I’ll be looking out for new and familiar faces at next year’s conference.