Mental health awareness is rightfully on the rise. However, 60% of adults experiencing mental illness still don’t receive treatment. Therefore, more therapists need to be trained to support the population.
The National Counselling Society defines CPD as “a range of learning activities through which professional counsellors grow and develop throughout their careers to ensure that they retain their ability throughout their evolving scope of practice”.
Hence, CPD for therapists needs to keep up with increasing demand, as well as increasingly insightful research. Therefore, if you’re a CPD professional in the mental health care sector, read below. We’ll list the ways in which the sector is changing – and why this might change how you cultivate CPD programmes in future
More Inclusive CPD
The CPD Certification Service states that CPD for therapists must “develop, implement and maintain personal and professional standards and ethical practice” to be effective. To make therapy more ethical, its research needs to be representative of more people. Its work needs to not only be tailored to a specific demographic. Last year Derrick Shepard, instructor of counselling at the University of Tennessee, spoke to Counselling Today about how research from Data USA shows that the counselling profession is mainly comprised of white (non-Hispanic) females. Shepard said that this shows that counselling is only “talking the walk and not walking the talk” in terms of creating a body of counsellors that serves all communities. Moreover, he stated that to rectify this, the profession should be “normalised” for underrepresented minorities.
Hence, recruitment and training for therapists shouldn’t be developed to only serve learners who look a certain way or are from a certain background. It needs to have research put into it that will help it serve a diverse range of therapists.
This is even more true in the wake of coronavirus, whereby everyone in the world was united by the same feelings of self-isolation and loneliness, and cultures communicated even more online as a matter of necessity.
Integration of Digital Technology
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and face-to-face counselling became inaccessible, searches for ‘counselling online’ increased by 124%. A study by the University of Zurich found that patients who accessed this type of counselling had higher recovery rates than those who received face-to-face therapy. Therefore, it’s possible that online counselling will become a regularly-used form of treatment even after COVID-19.
Hence, more therapists should be trained to carry out online therapy effectively, to make the most of this effective means to help people.
How else could digital technology alter what CPD for therapists will look like in the future?
Marty Jencius, an associate professor at Kent State University, told Counselling Today that in future, counsellors and clients, and educators and counselling trainees, will “interact more with computers as a natural flow of their process”. For instance, the web will be used more for finding clients and counsellors based on preferences, location, and interests. Also, counsellors will use certain programs to determine information needed for a patient’s treatment. Hence, CPD for therapists needs to train them to have high digital literacy.
Furthermore, Jencius also stated that virtual reality (VR) platforms (e.g. Second Life and Oculus Horizon) will probably be incorporated more into counselling training and practice. Therefore, counsellors and their trainers should be able to use (or even develop) such platforms to give clients immersive experiences. Jencius suggested that these might be used to allow clients to:
• Converse about difficult topics
• Practice social skills
• Create VR environments that express their condition,
Adapt to Changing Theories
Back to The CPD Certification Service; they stated that CPD for counsellors and therapists should apply psychological and related methods, concepts, theories and instruments – and these are constantly changing.
Professional counsellor supervisor Whitney Norris talked to Counselling Today about how more expertise is needed to understand the brain and body, and the physiology of mental health. Furthermore, Nevine Sultan (another professional counsellor supervisor) added that a trauma-focused approach should be taken, to understand how such experiences may impact patients in multiple situations, as well as their brain and body mechanisms. She also stated that the way in which new counsellors are trained should take a more contextual, integrated approach that explores “not only what is occurring to clients, but also how it plays out within clients’ broader experience as perceptual, emotional, cognitive, social-relational, spiritual and culturally situated beings”. This way, there’ll be more of a clinical focus on the individual and their symptoms.
Overall, there are many different theories about what the future of counselling will look like, or should look like. CPD for therapists should be open to incorporating new and existing practical methods and theories. It should constantly be moving with the times. Becoming stagnant or out-of-date is not an option.
What Counts as Effective CPD?
Currently, examples of effective CPD for therapists might include:
• Short courses that might include the issues discussed above
• Reading and writing articles about these issues
• Participating in committees that oversee discussions of these issues
• Attending and/or facilitating seminars, conferences and workshops
But might these change?
There are differences between certain activities that different professional bodies might deem as sufficient for effective CPD. For instance, the CPD Certification Service states that while the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) requires more overall hours of CPD, it allows therapists to include clinical supervision as part of their CPD requirements. On the other hand, the other two professional bodies, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the National Counselling Society (NCS), do not.
We’ve seen how multiple other main industries have increased their CPD requirements, such as in architecture, law, and social work. If therapy goes the same why – which it might, as therapists learn how to adapt their work to online spaces and more diverse patients, we might see the BACP and NCS therefore allowing more practices, such as clinical supervision, to be included in their CPD requirements.
Training Videos for Therapists
We’re seeing an increased use of training videos in therapists’ CPD. For instance, the BACP, one of the biggest professional bodies in the industry, has a CPD hub which industry leaders have testified to being very helpful.
Do you want similar resources to be made available for your members? CPD Online also produces video learning hubs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help your professional members.
Even when only counting those who’ve had their mental health affected by the pandemic, 10 million people (8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children and young people) will need support over the next 3-5 years, according to COVID-19 And The Nation’s Mental Health.
Demand for therapy is increasing, and therapists must be trained to effectively support this demand.