The past year-and-a-half has clearly brought vast change to the landscape of how great numbers of us learn and upgrade our professional knowledge and skills.
The COVID-19 situation’s influence on the search for new ways of learning – in an environment in which social distancing and other measures have been periodically put in place to help minimise the spread of the coronavirus – has also been felt in psychotherapy. Has this extended, then, to online webinars becoming a new mode of training for prospective therapists?
The short answer to this question is: yes and no. Online webinars have certainly played their part in the continuing professional development (CPD) of existing mental health professionals, in addition to providing a gateway to learning for those wishing to become therapists. However, they are not the only format of learning or tuition that you are likely to need to bear in mind.
What training courses do you require in order to become a therapist?
This question is complicated by the fact that there are no specific training courses or qualifications that are compulsory for practising therapists in the UK. Professional associations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) set their own standards for psychotherapy training; nonetheless, there are certain steps that prospective therapists are widely advised to take.
Indeed, in practice, therapists are unlikely to be taken seriously by most employers – or many clients – unless they at least have relevant professional qualifications, in addition to being members of, or accredited by, a professional association.
The UK Government’s National Careers Service, for example, states that aspiring psychotherapists can enter the field by undertaking a college or university course. At college level, this may take the form of a Level 3 or 4 Diploma in Counselling, followed by degree and postgraduate level training. Relevant degree subjects for careers in therapy include psychology, nursing, social work or medicine.
It is typical for those who are serious about becoming a registered psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor to undertake training that it will typically take them between three and six years to complete on a part-time basis.
To be registered as a psychotherapist with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), you can also expect to need to do around 450 hours of practice, theory and skills, in addition to having therapy and supervision yourself throughout.
How do webinars connect with other forms of tuition and learning for therapists?
As the above makes clear, if you wish to train to become a therapist, it is unlikely that your learning will be based solely on webinars. Nonetheless, with organisations like nscience providing access to a wide range of online webinars, seminars and conferences even for those who are not yet therapists, there is also no question that the right webinars can be a vital part of the mix.
Those attending a live webinar through nscience, for example, will automatically receive a CPD certificate after the event date. This can help make webinars an important component for sustained learning, even long after therapists have completed their most essential professional training.
A therapist committing to continuing professional development also shows their dedication to ongoing self-development and professionalism, which is likely to reassure discerning employers and clients alike. And with online webinars having now become a well-established resource for mental health professionals concerned to ensure the constant improvement of their practice, they are set to remain a fixture of therapist education long after the COVID-19 crisis is a thing of the past.