Conference Calling

When internal voices become verbally visible

I’ve been ‘thinking’ about writing a social work blog for some time. I even did a course on blogging to learn how and why. I’m sure there are other social work blogs out there but there weren’t many prospective social work bloggers on that course. Interior designers and stylists…Yes. Child protection social workers…No.

Today I was at a conference. I learned about dialogical therapy. I’d never heard of it before. It got me thinking. I particularly liked the idea of listening to internal voices and making them verbally visible. Maybe that’s what a blog is. An internal voice made verbally visible.

So here goes…here’s the first of what I hope will be a series of internal musings about things that seem important to me… made verbally visible.

I work for myself, so I have to pay for and organise my own CPD. One advantage is that I get to choose learning opportunities that work best for me and my style of learning. I go to one or two conferences a year. I never went to a conference as a frontline practitioner or manager. As I’ve been sitting here with a fizzing head full of excitement and ideas from the AVIGuk conference I’ve been thinking about why social workers don’t typically go to conferences? Other professionals do, so why not us? It hasn’t been part of the culture in the local authorities I’ve worked for (but may be at others.?) The experience of hearing others share their practice or the outcomes of research always inspires me to be a better practitioner. Connecting with other like-minded practitioners fills me with hope about what’s possible. Today, I’ve seen video footage of work with families that has moved me to tears. A choir of young ‘wild’ women from Cornwall bravely sang their hearts out and it made my heart swell.

I am saddened that most of the wonderful practitioners I teach each week are unlikely to have the opportunity to experience a day like today. They won’t get the chance to form relationships with professionals from other parts of the world through the networking that conferences always provide. They won’t hear how about how their work can and is being done differently.

I don’t think it’s possible to sit in such a rich learning environment and not critically reflect. Much of my working life is spent talking about how supervisors can create conversations that promote critical reflection. Maybe it’s not so hard after all. Maybe if social workers went to conferences those critical conversations would just happen. Conferences are good. I think social workers should go to them more often. I’m minded to arrange one. Will you come?

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