When Rhiannan first mentioned her conference plans to me in the spring, I was instantly enthused by her idea. To spend time thinking about the people we work with, to build real, motivating practice in to everyday life, was exactly why I entered in to independent practice: to take a more considered and bespoke approach to therapy. This isn’t a desire found solely within the independent world. It was inspiring to meet therapists from a wide range of backgrounds and clinical fields, all aiming to reinvigorate our practice and make our therapy useful and meaningful to the people we support.
Rhiannan built in opportunities for challenging and supportive discussion across the day. I spoke to people working in neuro-rehab, youth offending teams, schools and universities. Whilst we work across diverse areas of the profession, there were many shared perspectives. We spoke of expectations, the importance of taking the time to ensure that ours match those of our client. Abi Roper reflected on her experience as a newly-qualified therapist, feeling the need to ‘fix’ a communication difficulty. She now works as much more of a ‘collaborator’ with the adults she supports. Through this approach they express more independence, autonomy, and voice. Isn’t that what we all hope for our clients, whatever age?
Many expressed a desire to position communication goals within real life. We have all experienced the frustration of losing our good intentions amongst the demands of real life. So, to integrate practice (of any sort) in to our daily routines seems a worthy ambition. In setting out to achieve this, Madeline Cruice suggested we focus on the bigger picture, look at each individual’s Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation to improve. Her view of the therapy session as a time to ‘inspire clients to live and breathe therapy every day’ really hit home. We can only affect change if what we do in the therapy session bleeds in to the rest of everyday life.
There was a great sense of trial and experimentation about the day. We rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in to some workshops on active listening and setting goals together. Gina Davies shared her experience of taking risks within therapy, viewing therapy as a joint project with parents, to figure out what works for each child and to keep trying until we find it. I left the day inspired by the enthusiasm and creative solutions shared by so many. The fact that the very next day I was already applying some of the ideas is a testament to the success of the conference: real therapy ideas, that fit within our work and within the lives of the people we support.