"Gonna get myself, I'm gonna get myself
Gonna get myself connected”
- Stereo MCs
It was a long time before I owned a mobile phone. What made me get one in the end was an experience at a solution-focused conference, when I lost the people I was with and ended up spending a night in Dublin on my own. So I got a mobile phone. It helped me to stay connected.
I have been a little slow too in making use of online opportunities in my work. Not so much in my therapy and consulting, where I have been using the telephone, Skype and WhatsApp for a while, but more in my training. I like to connect, and being face-to-face with people has felt important in being connected.
Now of course we are needing to physically distance ourselves from each other, yet, like many others, I am also experiencing a huge sense of social connection with people, through both the old-fashioned telephone call, and, especially, online.
After we had gone into lockdown, a friend who teaches clinical psychology in a university asked if I would fill in a gap in the teaching schedule for their second year trainees, by delivering a one-day workshop, online. In just over a week’s time. As my upcoming face-to-face training courses had of course all been cancelled, there was only one answer I could give.
So I had to learn fast.
I had a couple of conversations, on Zoom - which I had found good for group meetings but had never used to teach - first with my friend at the university, and then with a group of colleagues from the Solution-Focused Collective, and we messed around with sharing screens, putting people into breakout rooms and writing stuff on the chat.
And I did some planning. A lot of the advice I received focused on how teaching online was different. It was tiring, so you had to have more breaks. You should do shorter sessions. Have them use the chat function more than trying to talk together as a whole group.
I received lots of helpful advice, and some of it made me nervous. On the day of the workshop, I logged in and started the meeting early (wearing a plain, light-coloured shirt, remembering that this is what I had been asked to do when recording a video lecture for the publisher, Sage, a year or so back). My desk was clear, other than my laptop, a pen and blank sheet of paper, a sheet with notes on of what I was planning to do, and a glass of water. In good light, streaming through my study window, I sat, a little nervously.
Then the first trainee appeared on the screen, we smiled at each other and I said hello. And we started to talk. From that point on, I discovered it was not so different after all. It was just me, and a group of fellow human beings, who had all turned up to do something together. So we spent the day doing it.
We were connected.
7th April 2020