OTs rock – yes they do… and today I really remember why I love working with OTs, whether its working in a one to one coaching relationship or training OTs as I have been today. Once more I am reminded what an amazing bunch of people you really are. Intuitive, creative, resourceful, highly skilled with amazing levels of experience, knowledge and skills. Yes, today I feel very privileged to belong to the OT profession.
I spent the day at COT HQ with 36 OTs who wanted to learn about coaching, mentoring and supervision. Yes, 36 people who wanted to help their fellow professional colleagues to reach their potential, improve their practice and work differently. Thirty six OTs who paid out of their own pocket, to attend this day, with the overall aim of helping other OTs!
The day was held partly to support the new COT mentoring programme, which started last year and aims to connect OTs on via the scheme. Many mentors have already registered and at present there are less people who are requesting mentoring, than there are mentors…its very early days in the scheme and its an emergent process (one of my favourite sayings!) but I will follow the development of the scheme and hope to be involved in further training.
During the day I mentioned how I felt it was important to be both a mentor and also to be mentored, which received a mixed response. Having coached OTs for a long time now, this came as no surprise! I remember reading an article on the challenges of coaching the caring profession – I read this at least 7 years ago when I started coaching and mentoring in health and social care. Apparently if you are in a caring or enabling profession, you find it particularly difficult being coached for many reasons including: feeling you should not need help; feeling you should have the ability to solve your own problems (“I help others you know”); not feeling worthy of receiving support; finding it difficult to let go and accept being the “supported” one. I remember having a chuckle at this as I too am one of those “difficult to coach” caring/enabling professionals.
Although we accept having supervision, OT is one of the only “therapy” professions who don’t have their own “therapy” as an expected part of professional development. But what if we had to have regular Occupational Therapy ourselves? Now that would be interesting! Do we really feel so good at problem solving that we have all the answers? Are we really so wedded to the notion of professional competence that must not show any vulnerability? Are we in such good occupational balance in our own lives, that we wouldn’t benefit from what we offer others? Oooo now that’s an interesting thought.
This isn’t a rant. In part I am reflecting on 7 years of coaching OTs and now pondering how many OTs will now recognise the potential benefits for having mentoring and request mentoring from the scheme. I spend a lot of time spouting about the opportunities and challenges that OTs currently have. The numerous possibilities that currently exist for working differently, setting up projects, businesses and social enterprises not just in health care but in the broader commercial world. Coaching and mentoring turns these vague ideas, possibilities and potentials from coffee morning chit chat “one day…some day… maybe”, into real things, real occupations, real businesses.
That’s why I hope that more OTs can embrace the notion of being coach-mentored, not because that’s the business I am in, but because now, more than ever, we need to look to a future that is different from what we are used to. We need to find the courage, tenacity and vision to do things differently. And not just out of fear of the loss of old ways of working, but out of excitement for being able to offer what we know is a really valuable, thing to the world right now…the business of helping people become happier, more connected human beings.
So visit the COT website to find out more about the mentoring scheme http://www.cot.co.uk/cpd/mentorship-scheme …you could always consider having some coaching or mentoring yourself aswell:)