Today, I am a 68-year-old retired Speech and Language Therapist, enjoying a fulfilling life encompassing a number of roles: wife, mother, grandmother, artist and volunteer in two groups for stroke survivors with communication impairment.
Six years ago I was struggling with the concept of retiring from a hectic Band 8 SLT post in a large London teaching hospital. This post had clinical and managerial components and I had worked full- and part-time as an SLT with neurologically impaired adults in the acute NHS sector since qualifying in 1972. The idea of possibly ‘falling off the cliff-edge of retirement’ really scared me: the abyss of the unknown: my children had long since flown the nest.
Although useful support and guidance was provided by the NHS Trust in an information study day for employees, this necessarily focused on the practicalities of retirement, such as pension advice and the importance of maintaining sporting activities. In such a day the complex emotions of participants facing retirement cannot be covered: for this reason, I sought the space which skilled supervision provides. Supervision incorporating a counselling skills approach seemed to me to be the way forward.
For two years prior to retirement, I met every few months with Cathy for supervision focused on helping me prepare for retirement. I found these sessions, always confidential, immensely helpful: Cathy acted as an empathetic sounding-board, using her skills to encourage self-reflection and new ways of approaching the issues. The conversations in sessions were led by me, but facilitated by Cathy, who provided relevant foci. I was able to come to valuable conclusions – lightbulb moments! The optimum timing for my retirement was key, as was the necessity to consider what I currently found most satisfying about my job, the elements which motivated me.
Although many people would not wish for this, I realised that it was important for me to have strategies in place to take me forward into retirement. These sessions with Cathy were invaluable and I am enjoying retirement enormously.