This last discussion chimed in with a recognition that clinical interventions to change people’s lives would not be enough – the conviction I met in Bill Jordan that drove him to political engagement and to client led activities. This, for all my interest in the world of emotions and psycho-dynamics, I had seen as important from my setting out into social work.
After five years as a probation officer, I was therefore looking to spread my wings into something broader. The impulse to go deeper into clinical practice took me to apply for a post at the Institute of Marital Studies. I thought about working in psychiatric settings but I actually applied and was successful in getting a post in the new city of Milton Keynes with the Family Welfare Association (FWA). This turned out to be an ideal marriage of clinical and ‘social’ approaches to social work – it is hard to be sure why I was interested in applying for this job almost 40 years ago but it was as much an interest in a chance to be part of creating a new social environment as in joining an organisation that was explicitly psycho dynamically informed.
I have always felt that it was in this job that I ‘grew up’ professionally, as I have described earlier. A key reinforcer of that sense of personal growth was work that took me outside the clinical session into encounters with other professional groups and organisations. I have talked of the discovery of the potential to be ‘important’ earlier mostly in the context of the clinical encounter, but discovering I could be seen as a significant figure by other professionals was an important milestone. The job at the FWA threw me into this position.