As a Headteacher, you have to keep everyone and everything in mind. You have so many responsibilities in the job, and no doubt outside it too. The role is not what it was a decade or two ago. Many Heads are highly successful but this often comes at a cost to wellbeing, health and family life.
Being a figurehead - holding matters big and small, from the financial to the personal - can be both exciting and tiring. It is a privilege, a joy and a duty. Needing to make difficult decisions about who, what and how to prioritise when things are not certain no doubt takes its toll. On top of this, you accountable to so many sets of people.
The role should challenge. While there are of course times of joy, at times it can make you frustrated, angry, disappointed, scared. Maybe a host of other feelings also. The more positive feelings can be easily be given voice. But where and to whom are the difficult feelings shared and, more importantly, thought about? And how might these show up if not thought about? Tiredness, maybe exhaustion, illness at the end of term, pressure on family relationships, and, over time, burnout.
I am an experienced Clinical Psychologist who offers a space to look at mixed feelings, doubt, vulnerability, things that you feel should not or cannot be voiced. It is a confidential space, somewhere to offload, and more; I do not speak to others about its content. It is a professional space, of equals, where the interaction between the personal and the professional converge. The aim is for you to know yourself better within your role. To help you perform in your role and have more headspace outside it.
I do not claim to be an expert on schools; I bring a different expertise – my clinical training and experience.
It is not therapy; you are not a patient. But it is important to think about your past in relation to the strengths and weaknesses you bring to your role, to what drew you to it, to your interactions with yourself and others.
It is not counselling; it would be more active than that and I am able to draw on a number of different models.
It is not coaching or mentoring, but it certainly can be forward thinking.
It will both provide a space for relief and gentle interrogation. I am certainly not going to advise you how to run a school, but rather help you understand yourself better and be in a better place to run your school. In addition, knowing that there is a place to speak and to think already in the diary is reassuring. I also bring a perspective on group dynamics, and consideration of how working with adolescents can get into individuals and teams. I also work with a systemic therapist if groups or additional support for your SLT (perhaps particularly those with safeguarding and pastoral responsibilities) would be valuable.
While it can be used in a crisis, the idea is that it is preventative and forward-thinking. Headteachers haven’t had this type of space in the past. But the job was different then and maybe, still, they should have.
I am aware that every school and headteacher are different and so the priority would be finding the best fit for you. However, to give you a sense of what this could look like, I would propose meeting, hopefully face to face, two or three times over the course of a half term in order to build something and then, from there, meet half termly. These later meetings may be more likely to be online, depending on ease.
The fee could come out of the school budget or paid privately.
I grew up in London and went to St Paul’s School before doing my undergrad in Psychology at Durham and then my Doctorate at UCL. I am a Clinical Psychologist with more than a decade of experience working in the NHS across a variety of settings with children, adolescents, families and adults. I have been Therapy Lead for a Trust-wide service where I offered a similar space to the team manager. I draw on a range of psychological approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic and Systemic and am a CBT accredited supervisor. I continue to work in the NHS but also offer private practice, usually with adults.
Please do get in touch to find out more.
Dr Matthew Evans