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Advanced Year One, Where It All Gets Very Real!

This month we are delighted to include a blog post from one of our Advanced Year 1 students, Carolyn Duffin, who shares with us so beautifully, the reality of securing a placement and beginning to work with clients.

Advanced year one didn’t seem so different from Foundation Year on paper. We had the same number of teaching days, same number of assignments, but there was one crucial difference – we were expected to start in a placement. In other words, this **** just got real!

I was quite blasé about the whole thing and sent in my applications to a whole bunch of providers and waited for interviews. Instead I got rejection after rejection! This was not in my plan, especially as I knew people in my group were already interviewing/had been accepted. Eventually, however, I got the elusive interview, and with the agency I really wanted to work with (the universe works in mysterious ways). I have more than 20 years corporate experience and have conducted and participated in multiple interviews. I was pretty confident I had this. Except, I didn’t. The interview was very (and rightly so) personal. It focused on vicarious trauma; how I was going to protect myself; who/what was in place to support me? The corporate me wanted to hide behind all the “Be Strong/Don’t Feel” walls that I’ve successfully built over the years; the Physis Scotland me knew I had to be congruent. I answered honestly and within an hour, I had a placement!

Job done? Not exactly! I started two weeks later with my first ever client. I arrived early and spent an inordinate amount of time repositioning the room. Where do I put the Kleenex? Do I sit closest to the door, or the client? How do I tilt the blinds so that there is daylight, but also privacy? And many, many more…Then there were the doubts about the actual session: How do I begin? What if they don’t say anything? What if I don’t know what to say/do? What if they ask if I’ve done this before? I’ve only done 20 minute triads, how can I do this for an hour?!! In reality, it was a lovely first experience. The client was open and talkative, we started to build a relationship and the hour flew by. I looked forward to seeing her again and then, COVID-19 and lockdown.

The majority of the above was written BC – Before Coronavirus. Experienced therapists are adapting to online working and students and placements are trying to do the same as well. I still only have 1 client hour because of the lockdown and I am really nervous about having to adapt my trained way of in-person working to online. I am, however, truly grateful to the support of both my placement and Physis Scotland for their support and additional training to help us all adapt to the new process of working online/telephone. We have had training with Lucy Hyde (fab, thank you!); practice in online triads as part of our regular training weekend (thank you Susie!) as well as regular check-ins with the two Fionas to see how we are all doing. In a time when our strokes are being globally restricted, this is proving so important to me. I will be starting back this coming week online or telephone with my clients and although I am apprehensive, I feel the power of my training, the Fionas, Susie and my Advanced Year One (and Three) tribe with me.


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