I am Swedish by passport, but my heart is nomadic. This state of being has defined my professional journey. I have been working in the physiotherapy field since 2003, in Sweden, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates, in private and public contexts, with humanitarian work and in universities.
My interest clinically is pain, in particular, pelvic/abdominal pain and dysfunction, women’s pelvic health and global health. I am also interested in other aspects that relate to this in various ways. I am fascinated by how people interact and work together, especially interculturally. I love teaching and inspiring others to think about their work from different angles. I have had the opportunity to do a fair bit of dissection, and am constantly learning through this process of exploring the body. This has also stimulated critical thoughts about where we have come from as a profession, and what this means for clinical practice and research.
The pelvic/abdominal interest is not something I had with me from the start. In my undergraduate training, pelvic and abdominal health was barely mentioned. I had virtually no exposure to issues related to these fields of practice in my earlier jobs – not because my clients didn’t suffer from them, but because I didn’t see them or know to ask about them. My interest in pelvic/abdominal health started in Afghanistan. Hearing the stories of Afghan women about pelvic dysfunction challenges they endured, meeting another physiotherapist with expertise in women’s health, I was introduced to the field that I now work with.
It’s a privilege and at the same time humbling to work with this group of clients. With every client, I learn more. And I can recognise the paucity of knowledge about the pelvis and abdomen in the healthcare system – including amongst physios – because I have been there. In my last job, I was part of setting up Sweden’s first pelvic pain centre, which was an incredible experience. I’ve recently moved on and am now developing my own thing, with an initial focus on training and health coaching from a particular perspective and model of health and pelvic health. I have also, together with three friends, recently set up a non-profit association that aims at addressing women’s well-being across the globe. One of the members and I have written a book on intercultural collaboration, where all the proceeds from the book sales go to this association. Another member and I are planning a project in Pakistan, to develop a training approach targetting women’s pelvic health in rural areas, collaboratively and culturally.
Looking back, the path behind me has taken many unexpected turns, and I don’t know what course it will take ahead. I hope to be a part of developing other ways of being as a physiotherapist, other ways of looking at how to meet the needs of clients who live with pain, through the blending of my various experiences and interests. The CPN seems one forum for throwing out challenging questions, to dig around in our roots and see what we find. And in doing this rethink the questions we ask and make those questions lead the way to practically exploring new ways of understanding, of being, of doing.
Relevant critical publications:
Wickford J, Osman F. Crossing borders – living and learning together in a colourful world. Tara Press, Dublin, 2018.
Wickford J. Conscious seeing: A description of a reflective framework used with final-year Swedish physiotherapy students in the context of international clinical placements. European Journal of Physiotherapy, 2014: 16; 41-48.
Wickford J, Duttine A. Answering global health needs in low income countries: considering the role of physical therapists. World Medical and Health Policy, 2013: 5(2); 141-160.
Wickford J, Rosberg S. From Idealistic Helper to Enterprising Learner – critical reflections on personal development through experiences from Afghanistan. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 2012: 28(4); 283-291.
Wickford J. Physiotherapists in Afghanistan. Exploring, encouraging and experiencing professional development in the Afghan development context. PhD thesis, University of Gothenburg, 2010.
Edwards I, Wickford J, Ahmed Adel A, Thoren J. Living a moral professional life amidst uncertainty: Ethics for an Afghan physical therapy curriculum. Advances in Physiotherapy, 2010: 13(1);18-25.
Location (city/town, country): Linköping, Sweden
Current position(s): PhD physiotherapist: part-time consultant at the Pelvic Pain Centre in Linköping Sweden, part-time educator and owner Sitara Wellbeing.