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Experiences of Training

Guest Blog Post by Danielle Payne on her recent experience of attending the 'Living Life with Uncertainty' Training delivered by Mark.

My name is Danielle Payne. I currently work as an Assistant Psychologist and Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in an IAPT primary care mental health service and I will start training as a clinical psychologist at Newcastle University in September. I completed an undergraduate project focused on uncertainty under the supervision of Mark Freeston and continue to work with Layla Mofrad and other colleagues on the development and implementation of a “Making Friends with Uncertainty” group treatment.

I recently attended the “Living Life with Uncertainty” training day alongside around 130 other professionals on Zoom led by Mark. I found it very useful to reflect on the huge impact that Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had on the world, resulting in significant uncertainties that we are all facing. By considering the pandemic as a disruption to life, I felt able to make sense of the uncertainty distress we are understandably seeing in this situation. It was great to learn more about managing this distress in these exceptional circumstances.

We took time to consider the huge amount of information that is readily available to all of us and how overwhelming this can be. By thinking about rebalancing the information we are taking in, we can manage the impact that this might have. Although we will all have stories to tell from lockdown and the pandemic, it was helpful to consider the benefits of talking about other things (plans for the future, memories, interests) when we are able to catch up with others, remembering that life is still going on outside of Covid-19. This can be difficult when the pandemic has taken over so much but can help us to rebalance the information we are exposing ourselves to.

During the last 3 months, I have considered why it was bothering me that I was unable to do something as simple as going out for a coffee. However, we talked in the training about how these subtle changes may be a sign that the rhythm of our lives has changed and we could feel more unsafe as a result. When thinking about making plans for coming out of lockdown and into a ‘new normal’, it is important to consider what might be different about the things that we previously did (such as not being able to hug someone) as well as thinking about what might be the same.

The key message that sticks with me from the training is that if we feel distressed during these times, this is an understandable and proportionate response to real uncertainty and real threat. Until we have more facts that are known and more certainty about these facts, we may find ourselves managing uncomfortable feelings. It is important to remember that this is a reasonable reaction and that others will share this too.

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