Thursday May 19th saw me heading along a very breezy seafront in Brighton. I hadn’t been to Brighton since my youth when we would go exploring the shops in the Lanes or head out in the evening to dance the night away in the nightclubs. Brighton was about an hour away from home and seemed very alternative and “cool”. I loved the diversity in how people dressed, danced and looked. It felt very different to the small city I grew up in. The seafront today was very different to that of my youth. There had of course been the fire on the pier, and the i360 (under construction) is a new addition to the skyline.
Although my family are still “down South”, I don’t get the opportunity to go back to places of my youth as I am busy visiting family and friends local to home. So when I learnt that my governing body, the BACP (British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists) were holding a research conference down there it felt like too good an opportunity to miss!
I have not been to research conference before, although I have attended other conferences. And I signed myself up for the pre-conference workshop and the conference networking meal-my usual approach to things is to throw myself in wholeheartedly! As part of my Doctorate studies next academic year, I will need to present some research: so I have no idea why I decided to apply to present at this time. But apply I did and my proposed presentation was accepted….and then I started to feel anxious (and excited). And then I decided I ought to work on the presentation.
My presentation was scheduled for the last day of the conference (Saturday 21st May at 12.05). I had prepared a powerpoint presentation – with some funny images- and had practiced it to get it into the 20 minutes and I was all ready to go. I did not think many people would attend my presentation, however I had a nice full-ish room. Everyone remained awake, from what I could see, and there were lots of questions afterwards, so many in fact that the allocated 10 minutes was not enough and there was a little overspill into lunch. However that is fantastic as it showed that my subject was accessible and relevant.
At the end of the presentation, all the attendees complete a feedback form on the presentation skills and presentation content. This feedback has not been received yet, however I look forward to it because now I want to do another one!
The conference itself was exhausting, however I was exposed to some fantastic work being carried out by my counselling colleagues all over the UK. I have met and spoken to some fascinating people, and I am now in contact with others who work in similar areas and I am hopeful we might do some research work together in the future. This conference has been fantastic for learning, fun and networking and has felt safe enough and accepting enough to risk putting my research out there. I feel part of a vibrant community of counsellor researcher-practitioners who are not all in academia,
There may be changes afoot within the counselling world if the discussions I was part of are indicators of anything. I entered nurse training when nursing was entering university education and professionalising itself. It feels as though counselling and psychotherapy (at least within the BACP) may also be thinking about these same debates…