Meet Imogen, founder of IW Response Associates
HUMANITARIAN, QUALIFIED THERAPIST AND MENTAL HEALTH INSTRUCTOR
Hello! I'm Imogen, and I'm the founder of IW Response Associates, providers of psychological risk management services to organisations in need, specialising in NGOs. Like most mental health specialists, I got here via a complicated route that also makes me who I am today. After starting out as a journalist with the BBC spent 15 years working on the front line of major international humanitarian crises, from Indonesia to Sudan to the Philippines and Haiti, where I spent a year after the 2010 earthquake. That taught me everything I know about crises, trauma, and working in high-pressure situations and across different cultural contexts.
Along the way, I also learned all about the psychological risks inherent in such work – at times the hard way. I’ve survived episodes of depression and anxiety and recovered from the full-blown burnout that hit after I overdid it (to put it mildly) in Haiti.
Today I provide consultancy services in psychological risk management to organisations, IW Risk Associates. Entirely separately, I also run a small private practice as an independent therapist.
My interest in mental health work therefore began because I didn’t have a choice: I had to manage my own recovery for a start! But it quickly deepened: I trained firstly as an emergency response volunteer for suicide prevention charity Samaritans, then as a professional therapist working clinically (I hold a BsC in Humanistic Counselling) initially from the aid sector but now from all walks of life.
And I bring all of this to my work now. I’m a trained mental health professional, but it’s almost more important for my humanitarian clients that I’ve been there. I know what that life is like, and the joys as well as the challenges it brings. I’ve wrestled with depression, and anxiety. I’ve pushed myself in the workplace to the point where I literally collapsed. I’ve talked a suicidal loved one into letting me take them to A&E. I’ve manned (woman-ed?) a suicide hotline.
And I don’t want anyone else to have to go through any of these things, ever. Not least because so much of the suffering involved, it turns out, was avoidable. Because this was one of the most important things I learned over those years: psychological risk is on one level just risk, and can be treated like any other hazard. You wouldn’t walk into a building site without a hard hat nor, as an organisation, set up a building site without a safety assessment – so why go into a crisis zone without understanding what’s likely to land on your staff and your teams, psychologically if not literally?
UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING PSYCHOLOGICAL RISK
I also now understand that what I learned in the aid sector isn’t specific to that world at all. The principle of understanding psychological risk and how to manage it applies to all of us, especially but far from exclusively to those working on frontline roles. These days via my company IW Response Associates I work with everyone from cancer nurses (via Macmillan Cancer Support) to management consultants (ADL), climate change professionals (EcoVadis) and the UK government (FCDO). This is in addition to my humanitarian clients, who include Concern International, HelpAge, International Location Support, Palladium International and the Disasters Emergency Committee.
So my approach now is built around this core concept of psychological risk management: proven, practical techniques for assessing, mitigating and managing risk where possible, and for responding to the impact when it isn’t. EVERYTHING I teach is practical, applicable and rooted in sound research and physiology. You won’t find unproven theories, wishful thinking or bland generalities in my courses or my approach – you’ll get models, tools and exercises that you can apply immediately to your life and to your organisation, developed by the best in the business working across the mental health and humanitarian sectors, and certificates issued by internationally recognised companies. And everything will be adapted and tailored to your needs, your context and your budget.
Interested? Great. To keep the two workstreams separate, I work with organisations through my company IW Response Associates. Any work with individuals is through my private practice as a BACP registered therapist so you can find me in their directory.
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NICE THINGS MY
CLIENTS HAVE SAID
What can I say about Imogen Wall? Imogen is a remarkable woman with a vast amount of empathy, experience and knowledge in the world of mental health. Whenever I hire Imogen to run a course for me, I always know - without fail – that she will deliver a fantastic session. She is able to expertly manage the classroom; navigating questions, course content and emotive material with ease, while also keeping every one safe. Thank you Imogen, always a joy to work with you!”
Rebecca Reed, Director, Siendo Wellbeing