By Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist, Course creator & Author
What is that peculiar smudge on my nail & why, for me, did it represent the challenges of lockdown?
Firstly, I’ll let you into a secret. Ordinarily, in non-lockdown times I pay to have my eyelashes & eyebrows dyed every 3 weeks. It just makes me feel a bit more ‘done!’ With all of the pandemic zoom / teams action I was much more aware of how I look to others whilst I talk & interact. I was missing my groomed brows and tinted lashes - so I thought I’d give home eyelash tinting a whirl. How hard can it be? Well. The fact that I managed to dye my fingernail really successfully but did not manage to so much as change the colour of my eyelashes by a single shade speaks volumes. It’s tricky to do yourself & it’s better to leave the experts to it. I think the same is true of so many aspects of lockdown and with accessing mental health treatment too.
I’ve never trained or been interested in being a beautician, a teacher or even a full time, 100% of the time parent / chef. During the lockdowns there was a lot of pressure for us to feel we were effective educators / humans / partners / cleaners and yet no one seemed to mind that I’m not an effective eyelash dyeing technician. People wouldn’t expect me to be. It’s not my job and I have no interest in it. I’m a Clinical Psychologist and I’m good at that. I’m trained & experienced in it and I love it! It takes a village to raise a child. The lockdowns and school closures lead to us having a focus of being everything for ourselves / our children / partners and it was certainly a struggle at times. Let’s try and be ok with what our strengths are and worry less about what we struggle with especially if in non-COVID times it’s not something we would even want to do!
The lockdowns have also caused a lot of people to consider how they can turn their hand to a home-based job. It has seen a massive rise in people practicing as 'coaches.' I have recently seen people saying they have accessed coaching to help them overcome mental health difficulties such as trauma, OCD and anxiety. I think it is worth drawing the comparison between the home eyelash dye job and the professional, qualified eyelash tinting here. Many people are unaware that coaching 'qualifications' can be gained in just a few hours and that it is an unregulated industry. Whilst an online coach may be effective at handling specific and measurable difficulties they may not have the breadth of experience, knowledge, skills and evidence-based, NICE guidance approved techniques to support clients when other life events crop up or when difficulties have underlying root causes or when the coaches techniques merely scratch the surface. There is absolutely room for everyone to make money in this industry and this post is not to dissuade people from reaching out for support. Merely to make people aware that there is value in traditional qualifications which have taken years and years to acquire and perfect and that require registration with official bodies and indemnity insurance. Sometimes people also see high prices for coaching as meaning that they will get better or more effective results and actually often it is possible to get sessions with qualified, experienced clinical psychologists or therapists for a cheaper price than a set of coaching sessions with an unregulated, unqualified coach. I would say please don't be afraid to ask coaches and therapists for details of their qualifications and experiences.
I'd love your thoughts on this and I'd be happy for you to ask me about my skills, qualifications or experiences as I know my colleagues also would be. Alternatively do feel free to connect on LinkedIn where I publicly list my qualifications too.
To work with me to improve your self-soothing, step away from self-harm, increase your self-compassion, raise your mood and reduce your self-criticism check out my superb, evidence-based course, The Feel Better Academy.
To find out more information about or buy The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & learning to Heal click here.