Recently I had an opportunity to attend the Division of Counselling Psychology annual conference in Newcastle. As well as attending various talks and workshops, I also presented a poster on my own research. It was a great opportunity to discuss my interests with fellow trainees and amazing counselling psychologists who shared their own training stories and passions. The discussions and conversations I had were extremely valuable in my development, and the support I received was just remarkable. Further, this was my first conference and I had many suggestions and tips from friends prior to attending the event. I was warned of difficulties in presenting your own work. I was told that qualified and highly accomplished counselling psychologists are intimidating. I was also warned that as a trainee I might experience exclusion from discussions and networking opportunities. I can safely say, that all the warnings were challenged, and I had a better time than I could ever imagine. I was pleasantly surprised to find friendly and approachable practitioners, and the support and encouragement I received as a trainee was astounding! As a trainee attending a conference, it helped me to locate myself and my university in this vast professional field. I am still trying to figure out what counselling psychologists do, and where our professional boundaries lie. I met people working in research, universities, charities, private practices, NHS, forensic, schools, and many more areas. The topics covered and explored were vast, and not only highlighted my lack of knowledge, but also showed that the sky is the limit in counselling psychology! Talking with fellow trainees from various academic institutions across the country showed me that differences and variety not only exists in individual practitioners, but also training institutions. I was surprised and excited to hear how different courses organise learning experiences for trainees, and where they place priorities in nurturing counselling psychologists-to-be.
A message from the (now past) Chair of Division of Counselling Psychology, Maureen McIntosh about this year’s conference, suggested that attending a conference will provide everyone with rich conversations, and stimulating presentations, but also a sense of being together. Well, I certainly felt all of that, but most importantly, I felt being a part of something bigger, something more important than myself, and something that is worth undertaking a long and intensive training for. If I can say one word to summarise the whole experience of the conference, it would have to be “inspiring”. I can’t wait to see how next year’s conference in Cardiff can top this!
Trainee Counselling Psychologist