For this year’s International Women’s Day we wanted to celebrate the work of female CAMHS professionals.
Dr. Sian Barnett has kindly written a blog to explain the work she does as a CAMHS clinician, the challenges she has faced, and the women that inspired her to enter a career in this field.
As a Clinical Psychologist and manager of an Early Years and Schools Team, in a London CAMHS service, I am constantly surrounded, by inspirational, warm, intelligent and brilliant women. These women have years of clinical training and professional qualifications, which they worked hard for. They regularly go above and beyond; for children and families, to support other professionals and to look after each other. This has been particularly evident during the pressures and challenges of Covid.
I am inspired by how much I learn from my female colleagues, the enthusiasm and creativity of my younger colleagues and the wisdom and experience of my supervisors, peers and mentors. To name a few: Jenny Dover, Educational Psychotherapist; Anna Picciotto and Yvonne Millar Consultant Clinical Psychologists; Lucy Alexander, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Glenda Fredman Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Family Therapist. Other talented female clinicians who guide my work are Hazel Douglas, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, who wrote the Solihull Approach training and Carolyn Webster Stratton, Clinical Psychologist, author of the Incredible Years Parenting Group training.
One of the things I admire the most is women who manage successful careers, family and children. I know the effort this involves. Therapeutic work requires emotional investment, being present, available and above all attuned and containing. It hasn’t always been easy to balance my family, well-being and career, over the years. This means I recognise that not everyone can do this all the time and sometimes people need permission to attend to other areas of their life. As women, we may or may not experience pregnancy, having children, face challenges and traumas, loss, illness, peri-menopause, menopause, while doing the best work we can. We have to learn to build resilience, growing from setbacks and learning from each other. We cannot always be ok and I never want to give people the impression this is easy, but I will always try and help the people I work with, by offering to listen, empathise and support. I believe in authenticity and openness in my leadership. This includes working with challenges and my own imperfections and celebrating successes.
As well as being inspired by my amazing colleagues, I am inspired by the teaching and Early Years Staff that I consult to and train, their dedication, passion and energy is incredible. Most importantly, I am inspired by the women and families that we work with, who survive everyday life experiences and traumas, with grace and dignity. I have worked with amazing children and young people of all ages and as a clinician in a girl’s secondary school I was inspired by the way in which the girls strived to achieve so that they could have successful careers, while they grappled with identity and social development, overcoming stresses, anxiety and depression.
A standard day for me includes facilitating MDT team meetings, offering CAMHS supervision and line management and consultation, reflective practice and training to teachers and early years practitioners. I work hard and I trust that if I look after myself and my clinicians and I do my best (as Winnicott said) that is good enough.