Interview with Carolyn Taylor from Iqarus

 

 

The 4th of November was National Stress Awareness Day. In the last 5 years more than 13 million people have taken time off work due to stress. There is still a huge stigma surrounding stress in the workplace, with the fear of job security. In this issue of Business Women Scotland we talk to Carolyn Taylor an Occupational Psychotherapist employed with Iqarus in Aberdeen. For over 40 years, Iqarus has been a pioneer in the field of offshore medical support and occupational health. A highly regarded specialist in Mental Health services, Carolyn is based in the North East of Scotland and works both on and offshore.

Carolyn tell us about your background and how you come to work with Iqarus?
I originally trained as a nurse, ultimately becoming a Nurse Manager in Intensive Care. In 1994, changing career, I first trained as a Counsellor in Aberdeen. Then, following further training in London at the Centre for Stress Management, I became an accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist; that was over 15 years ago. I went on to develop the training side of Mental Health, which includes Stress Awareness and Stress Management, Building Resilience, Work/Life Balance, the HSE Management Standards and Managing Change. In recent years, I have been increasingly involved in Post Trauma training and support. These services are throughout the UK with some visits to continental Europe, as well as on offshore oil & gas installations; all of which dovetails into the much wider service Iqarus offers to its clients.

What does Iqarus do and what is your role?
Iqarus is a leading energy sector healthcare provider. For over 40 years, they have been pioneers in the field of offshore medical support and occupational health. Working closely with their clients, they help to ensure that the workforce is healthy, productive, and safe, even in the most challenging operating environments.

“Carolyn is quite unique in what she does. Her role is very dynamic but nothing phases her about mobilising in under an hour. Dealing with trauma is a huge part of the job and many of our clients would not go to anyone else”. Erin Park, Iqarus

My role is both reactive and proactive. Although I originally trained as a counsellor, I now offer Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy. In addition, I also provide clients with Post Trauma Support. This may be an incident, accident or even a death and normally requires me to mobilise to the client’s workplace at very short, even immediate notice. More often than not, this is to an offshore oil and gas installation. During my career I have visited many, from the East and West Shetland Basin to the Irish Sea and Southern North Sea, from Plymouth to Dounreay and as far afield as Norway and Holland. I have some 20 days of training offshore before Christmas this year – and that’s not counting any traumas I may be called offshore for at short notice! In order to remain mobile, I must ensure my passport is up to date – travel to offshore oil and gas installations is deemed international travel – but also that all my offshore medical and training certificates are in date, including the ‘dunker’ or HUET, as it is known; the Helicopter Underwater Escape Trainer!

Proactively, I provide training and workshops in Stress Awareness and Stress Management, Work/Life balance, the HSE Management Standards and Managing Change. These are offered both onshore and offshore.

With the downturn in the oil industry are you finding more clients requiring your services?
Yes. There has been an increasing requirement, not just before people suffer from stress with the training side of Managing Change, but also after, with the psychotherapy. Erin Park from Iqarus explaines how highly Carolyn and her work is regarded, both by her colleagues and clients. “Carolyn is quite unique in what she does. Her role is very dynamic but nothing phases her about mobilising in under an hour. Dealing with trauma is a huge part of the job and many of our clients would not go to anyone else.”

In the last 5 years more than 13 million people have taken time off work due to stress. There is still a huge stigma to saying that you may be suffering from stress in the workplace, always with the fear of job security. At what point do you get involved with employees suffering from stress in the workplace?
Stress is nothing new; one of the first slides I use in my training sessions is a quote from Epictetus, a Greek philosopher from the 1st century. In 2004, as one of the directors of the International Stress Management Association (UK), I was instrumental in introducing the HSE Management Standards into Scotland. National Stress Awareness Day was already an annual date before that, has continued to grow and is, incidentally, still owned by the International Stress Management Association; it is always the first Wednesday in November and I have been involved in every year since. This is only part of a growing educational intent to de-stigmatise mental ill health. We at Iqarus are involved in pre-emptive training for employers and employees in understanding all aspects of stress, particularly in the workplace. We also offer support to companies in managing sickness absence and recognising the importance of work/life balance.

The aim is to instill in the individual, and therefore the organisation, the necessary psychological, practical and safety checks to keep them on course into the future. This will result in increased individual performance, greater corporate efficiency and reduced absenteeism, thus allowing for overall individual and corporate wellbeing.

Who has been most influential on your career and what is the best piece of advice that you have received?
Many people have been influential throughout my career, including my husband and family. On the professional side, Professor Stephen Palmer, who trained me in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and continues to be supportive in my career; whilst Dr Bruce Lawrie has been my close mentor for the past many years and continues to be.

Regarding the best piece of advice, I think the best way to answer that is a quote attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, the first part of which is:

Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

 

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