BEN PORTER is our new ‘Psychosocial & Wellbeing Lead’! In this Q+A he pays tribute to his predecessor, shares his hopes, and explains why his role is a bit like surfing.
How did you get started in psychosocial work?
I started in the USA, doing clinical work in addiction at a homeless shelter. From there, I moved to Uganda, where I managed psychosocial projects that aimed to provide mental health support to parents whose children had been abducted by a rebel army. I also ran a training program for counsellors there. As I did this, aid workers found out that I was a therapist and started knocking at my door for support with the inherent stressors of humanitarian work and the often difficult team dynamics they were experiencing.
You’re not new here – how did you first get involved?
I’ve been involved almost since the beginning. For the past six years I’ve mainly worked as a Staff Care Consultant & Psychotherapist. Throughout this time, I’ve loved meeting and supporting such a diversity of people. We have a phenomenally interesting client base. The human spirit is so variable and people’s resilience is amazing. It’s fascinating to see how and why people cope with different challenges. I love the creative process of working with each individual to find what works best for them.
What excites you about your new role?
Lots of things. Mainly, the challenge and the opportunity to make a difference. It’s like being on a surfboard at the top of a wave – it’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. I want to harness this energy. I’m excited to take over from my predecessor Graham Fawcett. He’s been an exemplary leader and mentor to me. And I think we’re coming into a new, exciting era of psychosocial work. We’re grappling with new challenges, such as how to use artificial intelligence to help people.
What’s special about our psychosocial team?
It’s a unique team. Right now we have practitioners who speak over twenty languages and are based in fourteen countries, so we can provide culturally-sensitive care to a wide range of clients. The team is multigenerational too, which brings a wealth of experience and perspectives. And we each have our different specialisms as well, like nature-based therapy, ‘third-culture kids’, vicarious trauma or human rights.
What do you most enjoy about working with our clients?
Again, it’s the diversity. I work with people in their twenties and in their seventies. I work with people from all parts of the world, some in very complex contexts, who sometimes find themselves in unsafe situations. And I also get involved in the ‘upstream’ work that managers can do to support the health and wellbeing of staff, and prevent people getting into a sticky situation in the first place.
How do you relax when you’re not at work?
I’m a runner: last night I did a track session that ended at 9pm – it blows out the cobwebs! I also live near a river and enjoy swimming there. I’m a big fan of Bach and Beethoven and appreciate a clean kitchen too!
Explore all our psychosocial services and courses on our interactive web page.