What I’ve learned after 100 blog posts

 

I’ve done it. I’ve reached one hundred blog posts.

I have been writing in this blog for five years. It has taken me on a professional journey I did not imagine it would take me, and has helped improve my reflective writing.

So:

  • how did I get here, and;
  • what I have I learned along the way?

 

My first blog post

I wrote my first post in January 2013, an article on counselling and post-natal depression (PND). It explored how the emergence of online counselling was helping those who could not access counselling easily. A mum with a new born baby was suffering post-natal depression (PND) and could not attend face to face counselling. Counselling through email was the answer for her. It was re-published in a local baby and toddler magazine and received positive comments. This encouraged me to continue.

The start of my blog coincided with me relaunching my private practice (after a few years off). Business was slow, giving me time to write and read. I looked at what I was reading and I started writing about it. This helped me retain what I was reading as well as develop my working practice as a counsellor. I started blogging about articles I read in newspapers, such as anorexia and self-esteem, as well as my own Continuing Professional Development events that I attended, such as online counselling.

And then it started

In the first 6 months no-one read my blog. It was a bit disheartening but I kept on writing. I was valuing the reflective thinking. Additionally, as I love photography, every blog post I posted gave me an opportunity to post one of my photos.

In July 2013, I started receiving hits on my blog post; 67 views. I was on my way. Google started picking up a photo that I had posted on Grieving in Western Society. This post was written about my own experience of facing bereavement whilst working in Africa. I was supported by the community I lived in. The post reflected on how we need to learn how to respect grief and be tolerant of it.

 By the end of 2013, I had written 20 blog posts and had over 1000 views. When I started writing, I struggled to write 300 words. As I have continued to write, I have found writing easier and I now write 1000 words for each blog post. The more I write and the more clients I see, it is easier to reflect upon my work and to develop what I have learned during the counselling process.

As of 2017, I have 100 posts and over 200 hits per day.

The secret of my writing discipline

As part of my practice, I am a great believer of writing therapy, especially letters that are never sent. I have found that the process of writing letters and emails, without sending them, has helped me sort through different emotions and circumstances in my own life. I have developed this into my counselling practice and I encourage my clients to write similar letters where appropriate.

Ever since I started my counselling training, I have always written for 10 minutes a day on my professional development. I start every day with this and it is always the first task I undertake. That’s my secret. When my clients do this, they tell me that it is useful.

Becoming a BACP accredited counsellor

The other turning point in my blog writing was when I started writing my application to become a BACP accredited counsellor. BACP accreditation requires us to reflect on how we work as professional counsellors, and how our practice has developed since initial qualification. Our professional development must be evidenced and we must demonstrate how this has informed our practice.

We show how we work within BACP ethical framework protecting our client’s autonomy. This is shown through a client case study. It also allows us to reflect on our practice and how we use our supervision. Writing for my blog helped me develop ideas for my accreditation and I could publish some of these ideas on my blog post. It led to me to reflect on the ethical framework and to begin to think about counselling regulation and the future of the profession.

What I have learned about my professional practice

Blogging as a counsellor will get many mixed views. Some counsellors are supportive of writing a blog post whereas some think blogging is not appropriate in the counselling world. I personally think I have grown as a professional by blogging.

What have I learned?

  1. I reflect more deeply through my writing. Blogging has enabled me to reflect regularly and deeply on my work as a counsellor and the counselling tools that I use. It helps me explore different ideas. I write more than I publish; this continued discipline has deepened my thinking and giving me more experience in writing and reflecting on my work. Some of my unpublished writing has led me to explore different ideas and thoughts, which has been discussed further during supervision. This enables me to vocalise what I have written and help me expand both my practice and writing even further.
  2. My voice has authenticity. My blog shows that I understand what my clients experience, and I can lead them to different postings. My clients tell me that when they read articles I have authored, it verifies their perception of my professionalism.
  3. Regular writing is a valuable discipline. Writing a blog has led me to be disciplined in my writing. Writing regularly gives me a record as to how my thinking has changed. I can look back and see how my thinking has grown, and how my ideas have developed. I have found that this reflective thought process has improved me as a counsellor, and enabled me to develop on focusing on the counselling process with my clients.
  4. Others learn from my writing, and I learn from their questions. I have written different articles on counselling processes, regulation and ethics. This has enabled other counsellors to read my thoughts, and has encouraged them to pose questions of me. This has been expanded through my use of twitter where I post links to all my blog posts. Some of my posts (for example, changes in the counselling profession) have led to an active debate and we all learned from the process

Back in 2013 I would never have dreamt of writing 100 posts totalling 72 thousand words about counselling, and to be honest I wasn’t really in a position to do so. But now, I not only have the words, I have managed to cultivate a process that makes the writing work for me and my clients.

I’m a better counsellor as a result, and I have the evidence to reflect upon to improve my practice further.

My writing serves the community of counselling and it’s a fantastic tool that markets what I do; it helps potential clients identify with my approach to counselling, so they can get the best fit for them.

Here’s to the next one hundred posts!

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Hazel Hill has a private supervision and counselling practice in Sheffield. As well as having a private Sheffield and online practice, her clinical experience includes working for IAPT, EAP's affiliate work, and charity. Hazel specialises in workplace counselling, bereavement, anxiety and depression and outdoors counselling. You can contact her on 07814 363855

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