CPD in Counselling and Psychotherapy – Some Reflections

CPD in counselling and psychotherapy – Where to now?

CPD Logo 300x300 CPD in Counselling and Psychotherapy   Some ReflectionsAs an organisation that provides CPD in counselling and psychotherapy, we try to think quite deeply about the subject. However, it is a complex area.

This is George speaking. I have not discussed the post with Jonathan, although I suspect he would agree. We have just re-run a CPD workshop in counselling and psychotherapy on trauma. It was a difficult experience. There were IT issues, compounded by the security problems of working on an NHS site. But more fundamentally there was the question of what we were trying to achieve.

In my counselling training I grew to love and hate the model of small group discussions. They served the necessary purpose of emphasising diversity, and did aid learning and development.  But they sometimes seemed to loose the link with learning and pedagogy. As a result, in the sessions that I run, I am cautious about just setting groups to work on issues. I try to provide information from the literature, from research and from my own experience; while avoiding prescription. This tends to lead to a degree of confusion, that is not unintended, but can be disconcerting.

Time is a real issue, for there are limitation to what can be achieved in a day. There is a model in NLP that says people move through the stages of:

  • unconscious incompetence
  • conscious incompetence
  • conscious competence
  • unconscious competence.

However, this takes time and requires practice.  Unless you break things up into unreasonably small fragments, it is difficult to achieve significant change in a day. It also assumes that there is an omnipotent trainer that understands what is going on for each delegate.

Jonathan, as a hypnotherapist as well as a counsellor pays great attention to sending clients away in a good state. I, as a more psychodynamically oriented practitioner, accept that I will sometimes send people away in a state of distress or confusion. I know I can address this at the next session or even sometimes (in a more controlled manner) between sessions.  Change for clients takes time and a 50 or 60 minute session is seldom long enough to work through painful traumatic feelings.

I suppose this is how I approach training. Not as a ‘cuddly’ experience, but as a controlled process of taking people (including myself) outside their comfort zone.

The main objective of this post is to challenge the amount that can be achieved in a single day. We can communicate an idea that may take root and grow in the mind of a delegate, but we cannot guarantee to provide an experience that will be transformative. We would love to run more extensive events, but we are not sure how these would be received. It would be a major commitment to plan a two day or week event, and a major financial and time commitment for delegates to sign up for it.

Donald Schön (1991) talks about the crisis of confidence in professional knowledge and prescribes reflection in action as the solution.  The issue is the manner in which processes of individual and collective reflection take place.  As counsellors and therapists we have supervision as the main vehicle for this, but we are also required to undertake self-selected CPD and I am not sure that as a profession, we are making best use of this vehicle.

The feedback we received from the event was generally positive but some delegates asked for more small group work, while others asked for more time to digest the material provided.  We will certainly take these comments on board when we re-run the event and there will definitely be some differences.  We will definitely take steps to ensure that we are not at the mercy of IT that we cannot control.  This is a piece of parallel process that we can do without.

If you have any views on the issues raised in this post then please let me know by emailing events@mindsite.co.uk

George MacDonald

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