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Sorry, I’m not a Psychologist: Reflections on 10 years of BACIP administration

Ten years ago the MP I was working for one day a week announced that she was not going to stand at the upcoming general election. What was I going to do next? I was open to possibilities. As the constituency office was wound down, I had an interesting conversation at a toddler get together with a mum from my church: she gave me details of a job in an organisation that she was a member of that might suit me. I applied, attended an interview in Birmingham, and became the new administrator for BACIP.

I didn’t know much about psychology (hence the title of this piece!) but everyone on the steering group was lovely and welcoming. I soon got into the rhythm of steering group meetings, twice yearly conferences and newsletters, matching around 200 standing order payments to members and chasing the rest. A lot has changed over 10 years. Membership has been gradually declining, and we’ve moved to be more online (meaning a lot less envelopes and stamps). The steering group has many conversations about what BACIP stands for and how we can attract more members. But the enthusiasm and commitment of the core members has remained. I’d thought I’d share some of my experiences as BACIP’s administrator.

My first residential conference was quite an introduction. It was at the All Saints Pastoral Centre near St Albans, which was about to be closed. Despite being told they needed to, some people had not brought a towel with them. This was something I have checked with venues ever since! Other conference challenges have been a change of venue to accommodate numbers, a change of subject due to speaker illness, a sped up programme due to snow, and venue heating failure.

I have learnt so much over the years at these events. Things I’d never heard of, like Integrative Complexity, Godly play, and mindfulness (hard to imagine now). Things that stretched my mind, like the theology of the person, the soul and the mind; the Christian significance of psychology; and Tom Oord’s understanding of love.

There have been fun times, like learning salsa and seeing Joanna in action as a barmaid at Cuddesdon, and sitting around a firepit listening to stories at Launde Abbey. There have been inspirational people with such amazing knowledge and gifts for sharing it. I have always returned from BACIP conferences tired but energised.

On a more personal level I have grown spiritually through BACIP conferences. Through the worship, the settings and the content, God has spoken to me and ministered to me. He has guided me through a time of identity crisis as my children grow up – what am I apart from a mother? The Refuel conference helpfully came at a time when my husband was experiencing burn out. In a one-to-one on vocation it was pointed out to me that administration is a spiritual gift. An especial highlight was last year’s retreat at Launde Abbey, a breathing space from a hectic life.

There are some parts to the job that I enjoy less. Receiving requests for help by email and then not finding anyone I find hard, but there’s only so much you can do. When it does work it’s great. And a personal plea: if you’re going to stop being a member of BACIP, please let me know. I would much rather that than send chasing emails for membership fees and never hear from you again.

In summary, being part of BACIP has been a privilege and Christian psychologists are lovely. I’m so glad I applied for the job!

Helen Scott (BACiP Administrator)

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