I went to a conference this weekend (Emerging trans* run by @pinktherapyUK for those who want to know and I’d recommend pinktherapy conferences to anyone – they aim to explore the full diversity of human sexual/relationship/gender/sexual diversity experience that we might encounter as therapists).
It can be a daunting thing to do as a trainee – last summer as a first year, I went to the BAPCA conference. I wasn’t going to go to the BAPCA one – it was expensive, and I was a student. I was worried that I would be out of my depth. But when i looked at the site, they had bursaries available and on a whim, I applied for one. They gave it to me. I was nothing short of amazed, and then of course, I had to go – someone else had paid for me.
What both of the conferences (with their very different themes) had in common was just how friendly they were. At the BAPCA conference I didn’t have a ‘trainee therapist’ label, (at the trans* conference I could choose to give myself a label and i chose that one), but I felt free to speak as myself, as a trainee, and give my own experiences, which were well-received and I was treated with kindness throughout. It was the same experience this weekend; I was much less daunted, and much more secure (in part because I do have actual clients, and some of them have fallen into the category that was the theme for the conference – hence the interest!).
As a trainee who pays out a horrendous amount each month for my training, the conference was on the high side for me, but the experience of the first conference taught me that ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ and so I asked if there was any way/concession for volunteers. Dominic kindly accepted me as a volunteer, and for half-price entry, all I needed to do at the weekend was to sell Pink Therapy’s 5GB memory sticks loaded with 400+ papers covering a range of sexual diversities (including LGBT, non-monogamy, BDSM and asexuality) to anyone who asked me for one. It wasn’t arduous – I have the memory stick already and have found it an invaluable resource. I got to see all of the seminars and missed nothing, whilst at the same time, having a great opportunity to talk to people from a variety of backgrounds about our shared trans-related interests, amongst other things.
People at conferences all seem to remember very well that they were trainees once, and they were absolutely kind. Both at this conference and at the BAPCA conference, I was able to meet people who had written text books that I own (in some cases my core texts) and have conversations with them ‘just like they were anyone else!’ (to quote myself last summer).
This summer is the ADPCA conference in Nottingham. I’m going. I also applied for one of the bursaries for that, and was successful. There is a pre-conference day, and then the conference itself. I shall be there for the pre-conference day, and the first full day of the conference, as it is my last training weekend of the year. Whilst sad that I will not get to attend all of it, I’m very grateful for the chance to attend those bits, and this time, I won’t be feeling so out of place as a student, as essentially, I know I’m guaranteed a warm welcome.
For anyone who wants to know what sorts of things happened at the BAPCA conference, check out the Online Events webpage. They filmed most, if not all of the keynotes from people like Gillian Proctor, Art Bohart, Stephen Joseph and Peter Schmid to name a few, and all of them are available in their library free to students. They have much more available than this and their library is well-worth a look.
Some of the other trainees I met at the BAPCA conference last year will be going to the ADPCA conference this year (the BAPCA conference will be on again in 2015 and I hope to be presenting – if you want to go, start looking out early for bursaries!), and we have – those of us still in contact – decided that we will meet and have dinner after the conference one night. If you’re a trainee and you want to join us, let me know!
- The Person Centred Approach – Keynote Presentations 2013 (ensoucounselling.wordpress.com)
- How we got shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards (pinktherapyblog.com)