The other evening I had my supervision. Supervision is a requirement for most counsellors and counsellors in training. It is my space for exploring my client work in an open and - this is particularly important - non judgemental way. It is more about going into my feelings around what I've done than about some kind of assessment of the actions I have taken.

Recently I've had a number of conversations about other professions - teachers and nurses mainly - who are charged with equally complex caring roles, but who rarely have access to this kind of supportive over-view. For them, more often than not, supervision becomes about criticism and target reaching. This can't be healthy for the practitioner, nor for the adults and children who come into contact with them.

At the Lapidus training day it was hypothesised that some of the difficulties we, as writers, encounter from staff when we go into educational or health settings, may stem from this lack of nourishing back-up. The "something different" that we offer becomes, at best, a bother, or, at worst, a threat. Yet without the means for looking at themselves, the practitioners do not even know where their responses are coming from.

Freud said that we are mostly guided by our unconscious. I have an image of us all as icebergs, the conscious part is the tip above the waves, but it is the stuff below the water line which really causes the damage.


I attended a Lapidus training day last week. I had hesitated over going, it all felt too much on top of everything else, but I'm very glad I did.

Lapidus - creative words for health and wellbeing - is a national organisation. It brings together people from many different grooves of life who are interested in creative writing as a conduit for self-reflection and personal growth and within health settings. Its meetings are always a vibrant mix of health professionals, educationalists and writers, all passionate about writing and the importance of creativity in our lives. It's a place for me to go to be inspired, re-sourced. I had forgotten that.

I had also forgotten about Julia Cameron's "writing dates" (from her The Artist's Way), days out with the sole purpose of replenishing our creative store. Time has been a big issue for me recently, the feeling of being overwhelmed by work and commitments. Now I have blocked off one day in the week for my writing and creative work all the way through to September, I suddenly see space, and opportunities to keep some writing dates.

I'm also a little disconcerted. For over six months my life has been ruled by where I had to be next, the choice of, well I could go there or there, or just stay right here with a cup of tea, leaves me unbound and free-falling. And I kind of like that.


I got a call the other day from a health professional asking whether I had any guidance for him because he was thinking of offering creative writing as an activity for his clients. My first question to him was: do you write? Well, no, I dabble a bit, nothing I would want to share, was his reply.

Am I being too precious here in thinking that in order to encourage others to write creatively, we must first immerse our selves into that world? And if we are proposing others share their work, we must be up for that too?

For me, therapeutic creative writing, much like counselling, is not something to be done unto others. It's an exploration, I as guide, facilitator, however you want to frame it, invite others on. I am in the midst of that journey, in the swamps and on top of the mountains, not looking in from the sidelines. When my caller asked me if there were any worksheets I could send him, I nearly cried. Did Picasso get asked for worksheets? Now, perhaps, I am being too precious.


"And Some There Be"
On the road to Cap del Pinar
a plaque reads: "Victorious engineers 1939",
to those who
dug, blasted, pinned, tarmacked,
built this precipitous way.
And I thought
how often do we commemorate
the men and women who
quietly, gloriously,
create, not destroy.
The triumphant cleaner,
the undefeated carer,
the conquering call centre clerk,
the broadbacked brickie?

And lest we forget
there's a carved stone
in a plaza in Paris
which honours those
society brands as failures
for whom poverty is
the only prize.

I wonder whether
in amongst the celebrity, the influential and the hero,
there's room for the mediocre,
for the does their best,
for the not quite good enough?

Where indeed stands
the marble memorial
to the ordinary,

to the majority of us?