Two colleagues and I edited an edition of Context on working with older adults that were published in the autumn. If you want to find out about Context, this link (click here) should go to a page about it. Context is a magazine produced by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice and I love it. It usually has an inspiring mix of readable articles that are grounded in practice and full of useful ideas. With colleagues I contributed to a paper that you can read here: it’s entitled A peer supervision group reflects on getting older (on the occasion of the retirement of one group member).
We (the peer group) invited people who might be interested to join, expand and develop the discussion and we listed a series of questions some of which are relevant to people working with older adults more broadly and I reproduce some of them briefly below:
- Has the way you practice been influenced by your nearing retirement?
- Has nearing retirement changed your approach towards older adults in therapy/ health or social care practice? And/ or changed your approach towards younger adults?
- What messages and advice for younger therapists/ health or social care practitioners would you like to offer?
- Are there things you wish someone had told or advised you about growing into an older therapist/ practitioner or about retiring, and how could that have influenced you differently?
- What out-of-vogue practices would you love to be see given new life?
Comments are welcome.
We (the co-editors) were particularly pleased to have an edition about working systemically with older people since work in this area tends not to get the profile it should – both in practice and training the emphasis is often on work with families with children and adolescents. But older adults have families too, and families are at least as important to most older people (and older people as important to their families) as they are to younger people (I’ll leave you to decide what older and younger mean here.) People who don’t have relatives may have just-as-important families (maybe ‘families of choice’) consisting of friends, colleagues, and/or neighbours – yes, friends are important too. And I know too that sometimes when living in a residential home, the staff can be at least as important to a resident as that person’s relatives.
As systemic therapists working with older adults, we felt that:
- we need to develop the evidence base concerning systemic therapy and families in later life/ older people,
- collaborate in research and writing
- those of us working in the field need to move this forward by sharing innovative practice and by connecting and supporting each other,
- we need to advocate for older adult issues/ practice to be included in:
- systemic training
- opportunities to experience clinical work
- therapist competencies
PS The February 2018 edition of Context, devoted to Working systemically with trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive people, is another gem.