Friday, September 29, 2006

Scotland Update: What a Week that Was

Entry for 29 September 2006:

Monday was a public holiday, but no one seemed to know what it was for. Some people referred to it as bank holiday, but we were surprised to see that all the banks were open, so apparently that was not it! It seems that different cities in Scotland take turns having Monday holidays in September. This was Glasgow’s turn. Mostly, it was a shopping and hanging out day, like Saturdays tend to be here. Because it seemed mostly like a Saturday, we followed out Saturday script and had an outing to explore another piece of Glasgow. On this day, we decided to visit the Glasgow Modern Art Museum. However, before that we received a visit from Scotland Water, in response to our complaint about sewage coming up outside both our front and back doors on Saturday (before our previous Saturday adventure). It was a plugged drain shared with the house next door but with main access cover strategically placed in our front walk; when stepped on, the access cover yielded a small pool of raw sewage which gathered at the foot of our front doorstep. Apparently, this is another idiosyncrasy of British/Scottish plumbing, like the water tank in the attic. Fortunately, we found the museum of modern art to be much more pleasant. (We are not among those who would be inclined to see an analogy between modern art and raw sewage.) The collection features primarily Glasgow artists. The most entertaining piece as a video installation of a series of small children holding their breath as they sat in the back seat of a car driving through the Clyde Tunnel. After the museum, we joined the rest of the shoppers.

Tuesday, as already related, the movers came, and then I rushed off to meetings with the Dean and Vice-Dean. I had a very intense meeting with Iain, the Dean of the Faculty, plying him with questions, while he patiently answered them, sometimes digressing in order to provide me with backstory that I had been missing. At the end, he encouraged me to come see him every 4 to 6 weeks whether I thought I needed to or not. This pleased and touched me greatly, as I understood this as essentially his way of offering to mentor me in the ways of the University. I have never had this kind of relationship with a Dean before, and I find it very helpful for gaining a better understanding of how the University works. Later, I met with the Vice-Dean for research, and today (Friday) I met with the head of the Department and the head of the continuing education department (“Professional Development Unit”). As a result, I am finding that many things are beginning to make much more sense, and several directions forward are becoming much clearer.

Wednesday was largely taken up with 6-hour retreat, by the senior faculty and staff of the Counselling Unit, to try to determine our mission and priorities. Another intense day, as we hammered out our values, resources, challenges and priorities. We made real progress on several fronts. For example, we agreed to propose to the Diploma staff that the named focus of the Unit and the Diploma course be broadened from Person-Centred to Person-Centre/Experiential. This greatly helps both Mick and I to feel more integrated into the Unit; for me it has helped me reach a felt shift in my sense of my place. The list of strengths amazed us all (I will post it some other time). Even the many challenges named, while clearly difficult and in some cases painful, do not seem insurmountable, and even felt more manageable simply by our having named them. We left with 6 priorities, which will form the basis for a mission statement; our next step to develop this. What a wonderful group of colleagues. I came home exhausted by pleased.

Thursday was also very intense. I got up at 5 am in order to catch the 6:58 train from Anniesland station with Mick. We talked for something like 8 hours straight, first about Rasch analysis (somewhat grim in the morning dark), then about Unit things after Lorna joined at Queen Street Station for our train to Dundee. The Scottish countryside rolled by as we chattered on about the winter weather, about my conversation with the Dean etc etc. In Dundee, John McLeod was waiting to drive us up the Dudhope Castle, a genuine Scottish castle that shelled by the English during the 1300's. This is where the Tayside Clinic is located, and we were meeting there to discuss the status of the research collaboration among the U of Strathclyde, the U of Abertay, Glasgow Caledonian U, and possibly Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities. The approaching initiation of the Strathclyde Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Centre has required a maor restructuring of the collaboration, the result of which was an agreement to create the Scottish Network (Group/Consortium) for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, with me as Chair, at least for the first year, first meeting to take place in early December. I came home from exhilarated but exhausted and felt asleep instead of working on the grant prospectus that was due on Friday.

Friday, I got up at 6am to finish the grant prospectus that I had been working on all week around all the other things that I’ve been listing. This is a long shot at big money, only one bid allowed per university. I put in a preliminary tender for it, only because Lorna, Mick and Mike each independently decided I should go for it. The grant development officer was sceptical but invited me anyway to do a prospectus in order to help her work more effectively with me and the rest of the Unit. I’ve used this to revive my HSCED line of research in the context of the Practice-Based Research Protocol and the Social Anxiety treatment development study we are planning. It was great to get back to this stuff, and I was able to progress some of the ideas in HSCED significantly (but hat’s yet another Blog). After this, we had the meeting with the continuing education/PDU people, where it became clear how to proceed on the Level 2 PE/EFT training workshop, much to my relief; so that got unstuck also.

By tonight, unsurprisingly, the week has taken its toll and I can hardly function, but I am still going at 12:30am, on some kind of nervous energy. Clearly, this week has made clear that it has not been a mistake to take the job here: I have wonderful, highly competent, caring colleagues; my creative processes have been re-stimulated so I have begun to generate new ideas and write again, and we have settled into our house to a much greater extent. How wonderful! How exhausting! What's next?

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