Lets Talk About Safeguarding


Dear colleagues, an open invitation to you all.

For me, Safeguarding is about speaking out and having conversations.

I have come to believe, through experience, that the more we talk openly, with curiosity and courage about Safeguarding, the better equipped we will be to make well-informed, good decisions confidently and potently. Let's engage with the idea of it, what it is, what it means for us, how we can do it, let's wrestle with, it as a subject, an area of our work and let us explore and be interested in what it evokes in us.

Much of what is set out in the newly written Safeguarding Best Practice Guidelines relates to very serious and crisis situations, which we may experience rarely or never in our practice. It's a bit like that defibrillator at the side of a football pitch. For many, many matches it sits there, not needed, until it is, and it saves a life. Just because it is seldom needed doesn't mean it should be neglected or forgotten, because everyone concerned needs to know how to use it, and be familiar with it. It might be anxiety-provoking to think about using it, so the more familiar we are with such safety measures, the more comfortable and confident we will be.

In the safeguarding training session that my colleagues and I run we begin with an exercise where everyone is asked to sit comfortably, close their eyes (optional!) and visualise safeguarding as a colour... a smell.... a taste....an animal....a sound....a person. Try it! This powerful exercise can reveal much about what we hold in our own ego states in relation to this word and idea. Bringing our own Scripting re safeguarding into awareness is so illuminating and accounting, and important in order for us to be solidly our Adult ego state – very much like the process needed for best practice in safeguarding, where we need to be able to reflect and make decisions we can live with.

For me, the safeguarding process can begin with my intuition nudging my internal supervisor. From there a decision about whether to voice this, right then, with my client, and talk about it. This may lead to a revisiting of contracting, and a taking of the conversation outside the therapy room, and talking with my colleagues on the safeguarding committee, speaking to one of my supervisors, and others whose knowledge and judgement I have come to trust. This talking and conversation will, on some occasions, lead me to make the decision to contact Social Care or the police.
Naming is so important. From ''I notice I am feeling some concern at what you say and I wonder if you are willing to explore that with me?" to "This is abuse''. Of course, you will find your own way of saying this to that particular client. The important thing is that you do say it somehow, because if you don't, the one thing you can be sure of is that if someone is being harmed, neglected, frightened or oppressed in some way, it is very likely that it will continue.

The potential for irretrievable rupture of the therapeutic relationship, as an outcome of the safeguarding process, is a major fear often cited by counsellors and psychotherapists. In my experience, and that of my 3 colleagues (over 100 years between us!) naming and then doing something that may well involve breaking confidentiality, has not yet brought the therapeutic relationship to an end, and most usually strengthens it.

I, along with my rather wonderful co-committee members Deborah Wortman, Jean Lancashire and Michelle Hyams-Ssekasi, offer you the new Safeguarding Best Practice Guidelines as a tool, a map, to guide and inform you, to enhance your practice and to invite you to talk about safeguarding.

We are always up for talking about safeguarding. Please see UKATA website for contact details, safeguarding information and guidelines and help line details.
Bev Gibbons September 2017 bgcp@bevgibbons.co.uk

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