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in2gr8ing the personal and the professional as a Research Fellow at UCL Unit for Stigma Research

What it was like to write the 'Guide to supporting and valuing lived experience in clinical psychology training' together, when you have that lived experience.

When we were writing the 'Guide to supporting and valuing lived experience in clinical psychology training' at University College London Unit for Stigma Research (UCLUS), there were times when my mentor or supervisor met me in the office and I blanket-wrapped and shook it out when it could be triggering.

They were amazing in being witness to what I was determined to complete. They also witnessed and valued my lived knowledge and my writing from the heart. I was not always triggered, I mostly experienced real joy in doing this.

My message is this though, those times when I was triggered (for me slight dissociation and trauma shakes) I held it gently as I could and brought it into my experience of the work and wrapped around it my understanding from my analysis of what was happening.

I was able to listen to what it told me and use it to aid compassionate engagement with the work, to remind myself of how fearful these things can be for all. Most importantly to me, was how those around me trusted me to know what was ok, and if I needed to switch task or rest.

But it was because I was able to be me, and bring all of this, that I was able to stay on task with it for the whole time, and rests were ok for when I got home.

I say this: If can do this, anyone else interested and with lived experience can. We seek to make compassionate cultures in training and beyond, so this opening up and valuing becomes easier and accepted, and so that you can find your wonderful people along the way.

It was clear to me that there was a task to be done and deadlines to be met, but because I was so personally invested, and what I brought personally was valued, we opened up around it together and there was no block to finishing.

My fervent wish in general is that no one should ever feel that they are unable to persue their dreams. I have had help and support and almost righteously sought it, defying people to say any of that was 'weakness'. I have believed in the reasons for my trauma and have stood by them, and that part of myself that required advocacy, with all the solidarity and strength that I would give others. I demand this compassionate consideration from others, otherwise who would we be then, other than a punitive community who perpetuate harm?

In ending, from the bottom of my heart and virtually - as much is nowadays - I thank all those who worked together with me on this guide at UCLUS, for all they brought to it, and to thank them also for being a part of my recovery.

I went from broken down and thinking that all I might be banging on about here, were strange and wrong ideas in a painful echo chamber of my own traumatised mind (at one early point), to growing outward to understand that I wasn't alone in thinking they had a place.

This forthcoming UCLUS work will be published by the British Psychological Society (BPS) soon and joins the BPS lived experience position statement, as a strong message for change around provider lived experience stigma. in2gr8mentalhealth will be here to help - see our relaunch information.

Just thank you from me for standing by all of it.

Natalie Kemp


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