Training And Professional Development
Patricia Bishop runs a thriving hypnotherapy and healing practice in London. This is a thorough handbook to the complete business of setting up a complementary health practice.
Why do I need further training?
However well qualified you are when you start your practice you should still give some thought to your future development. Many professional organisations insist that their members spend a specified minimum amount of time each year in continued personal development (CPD) in order to comply with membership requirements. However, despite any formal need for further training or qualifications, if you genuinely want to ‘grow’ both your practice and yourself, you should be seeking out fresh challenges on a regular basis. These can either be some formal training, or can be new experiences such as running workshops or writing a book. The more experienced you are, the more techniques you have at your disposal for helping your clients reach their full potential and overcome their problems. Experience aids creativity, and the more creative you become, the more individual and personal is your approach to your work.
What kind of training should I invest in?
Further training can take many forms:
- further professional training in your particular therapy
- training in associated therapies
- experiential training
- researching and writing
- teaching and mentoring
- supervision and peer group support
- egroups and newsletters
- keeping self-development and training logs.
Further professional training
You may already be quite clear as to your immediate training requirements, but may not have considered your future needs or the strategic path you wish to take. If you need to do some further work on this, see Chapter 10 for some ideas to help you formulate your plans. If you have decided on a particular specialism, or are aware of the next step on your career path, it will be easier to decide on the appropriate courses to help you achieve your aims.
Where can I find a training course ?
Many of the schools or organisations that you trained with will have other courses, workshops or seminars offering you a chance to develop your skills further. For example, a hypnotherapist might want to specialise in rebirthing or past life regression, a healer might want to extend their work by healing animals, an aromatherapist might want a course to help them work more effectively with clients with learning disabilities.
Various training courses are listed on internet complementary health directories, for example, Healthy Pages and Positive Health (see Chapter 12 for the website addresses). You could also check out the various complementary health, and professional therapy, journals. Friends or colleagues may be able to recommend relevant courses to you, and will be able to advise you on which ones they found the most useful. If you are a member of any therapy-based egroups, you could ask the group for advice and recommendations.
Checking the course before you book
It is always a good idea to check various details about the course before you confirm your booking to make sure that you are getting good value for your money. Whatever course or further training you decide on make sure it is properly accredited, and check the qualifications of the trainers to ensure that your training will be conducted at an appropriate level. Be clear about what you want to gain from the course before you book it. If the course prospectus does not cover all your points, raise any questions with the trainers.
Training in associated therapies
If you undertake further training in therapies associated with your main practice work, this will obviously increase your portfolio of skills and the range of therapies you can offer. In addition you will often find that you can mix and match techniques from one therapy to another if you take a creative approach. For example, a massage therapist might also decide to train in Bach flower remedies or aromatherapy. These skills can then be brought creatively into the massage session by recommending Bach flower remedies which might help your client to deal with their negative thought patterns, or using aromatherapy oils as‘background’ scent to increase the relaxing effect of the massage or to help clear a client’s blocked sinuses.
The benefits of practising more than one therapy
By blending therapies in this way you are helping your sessions to become more effective, and you’re adding value to the sessions for your clients. The other benefits to this approach are that you will often gain an increase in clients (and thereby income) due to the unique way in which you work. If your clients enjoy the way you blend therapies to suit their individual needs, they are more likely to recommend you to others. And if you develop this approach further, there is the potential for you to teach your specialised techniques, or particular ways of working, to other therapists in your field. You could also develop training manuals or write some articles, or even a book, on the subject.
Do make sure that any further therapies you add to your skills base complement your main therapy practice. There is little to be gained from training in a number of unrelated therapies, as some clients may regard this unfavourably and believe that you have less expertise than someone specialising in one or two related therapies.
This is so often overlooked that I believe it deserves a special mention. Too often we focus on a particular course of training for the known skills or qualifications that completing the course will give us. Whilst this is all well and good, it fulfils a very narrow interpretation of
what training can be. Experiential training is training on the job, a somewhat old-fashioned concept in this era but still a very effective way of learning.
Why should I seek out this kind of training?
There will be many occasions in the course of your development when this can be a very useful way in which to boost your skills. For the newly-qualified practitioner, it allows a ‘honeymoon’ period during which they can have the reassuring benefit of a much more experienced therapist close to hand, or on call, to help with any problems or to clarify any techniques or processes. For more experienced practitioners it can allow you the chance to study someone else’s techniques first hand and to assimilate the best, or the most relevant aspects of their style or method of working, into your own practice. In this situation you are more or less ‘apprenticing’ yourself to the other practitioner.
This means of developing your skills need not cost a lot. Some practitioners will not charge anything for this kind of learning experience, whereas others will allow you to barter, for example you help out with some of their basic administration work for an agreed block of time, or you act as an unpaid assistant on any workshops or training courses that they are running.
You can also self-train by using this method. For example, you might have put together some new techniques which you would like to test for their effectiveness. In order to gain some experience with these techniques, you could offer free sessions to clients who have the particular problem or medical condition that you want to treat. Try advertising locally for people who are willing to volunteer to try out your new processes. This will help you to manage any client expectations about the treatment and will give you a proper chance to assess the effectiveness of your techniques.
What other use can I make of this kind of training?
You could also try out any ideas for a new workshop by running a shortened version of the course, free to anyone who would like to learn those new skills, or you could decide to run the full version on a donation only basis. This way you get to run your workshop for real, so your training needs are met, you also get to learn of any potential problems with the course as well as the things which went well so you can make any necessary adjustments or amendments before you run the course as a paying concern. Your course participants also benefit, as they get to learn some new skills, such as basic relaxation techniques, either for free or for the price of a small donation.
The more obvious spin-offs of this kind of training are: teaching your ‘new’ techniques to other therapists, and writing books or articles on your work and findings. And for those of you with a suitable statistics and research background, this can lead to the publication of scientific-based research in related therapeutic and medical journals, which will help you to further develop your practice. The complementary therapy world tends to suffer from a lack of scientific rigour in the documenting and researching of the efficacy of various techniques and practices, so any detailed statistical studies are very welcome.
Researching and writing
This is an excellent way in which you can boost your CPD rating, gain further income, increase your practice, add on a specialism and generally widen your skills base. And the even better news is that you can often fit this around your working day by using any gaps or missed appointments as brilliant opportunities for furthering your research.
You can start out in a small way by writing the occasional articles for therapy or health journals. You will need to have something new to say, or a new slant on a set of techniques, or be able to detail the processes you utilise for certain medical conditions. You will also need to make sure that your article is supported with appropriate research findings and data.
You can also try writing articles for local newspapers or community magazines. If you are lucky you may be offered a regular weekly or monthly slot, writing on various medical complaints or common problems and how these can be treated by various complementary therapies. You must be prepared to research outside of your chosen field of study in order to present a well-balanced article with maximum appeal.
Any articles you write can also be posted up on your website. If your website does not already include articles on the various conditions you commonly work with in your practice, now’s the time to start thinking about including a section for this. This will not only boost the value of your website to any interested potential clients, it will also prove your on-going interest in your clients’ problems and health issues. Include links to other sites where relevant. If you include a section on your website specifically for other therapists, you can use some of your articles to stimulate debate and an information flow on a particular topic you are researching – again another very simple way of increasing your learning curve.
Once you’ve tried a few articles, you may also like to consider writing a training manual – perhaps outlining a particular process you use, or detailing how to run a workshop on a particular issue. These do not have to be great heavy tomes, instead go for a maximum of approximately 30 pages. This will then allow you to run off paper copies fairly easily to post to purchasers, or to produce the training as an ebook. For more details about producing ebooks, see Chapter 12.
There is also the option of producing your own book on a health or therapy related topic. If this seems a daunting idea you might want to consider the possibility of sharing the work with another therapist. This in itself is a unique learning experience, for if you are writing with another more experienced therapist you have the potential for learning a lot more. In general, any research and writing you do is unlikely to gain you a lot of money, but you will be experience-rich and furthering your development. For further information about writing a book, see Chapter 12.
Teaching and mentoring
Once you feel you’ve reached a suitable level of experience you may want to consider teaching or mentoring other students and therapists. As well as being another source of income, this will cause you to revisit your knowledge base to update and expand it, thereby enhancing your own development.
Teaching will require you to hone your presentation and analytical skills, and if you feel you are somewhat lacking in this department you might find it helpful to take a course in presentation skills or to run your first few teaching seminars or workshops with another more experienced colleague. Keep a self-development journal, and make sure you note down after each workshop or seminar those areas you need to develop further – whether this is your research or knowledge base, or more practical skills. Don’t forget to also note down any learning points, for example, how you dealt with a particularly difficult individual, or how getting the group to reflect on what they had learnt just before lunch sent everyone off in a more positive mood. This way everything you do becomes a creative tool for your own growth and development.
Mentoring or supervising therapy students is an excellent way of adding to your portfolio of skills. If you feel you have the appropriate experience, make an approach to the schools or organisations you trained with, or any other bodies you are a member of or are affiliated to. Do note that you will need to satisfy their criteria for supervisors, and this may involve you taking an appropriate training course.
If your own organisation, or previous training school, doesn’t already have a supervision scheme, here’s an opportunity to set one up for them. Mentoring, or supervision, is challenging work, and it will cause you to further your research and push your personal boundaries. Your student will benefit from the experience and so will you. I’ve found the questions students have raised during supervision sessions have prompted me to devise workshops on related topics, to compile basic training manuals on various techniques, and have also prompted articles and books.
Personal supervision and peer group meetings
This is another way in which you can develop your skills, explore new processes and get some personalised training.
Undergoing personal supervision, whether it is conducted one-to-one or in a group, is a chance for you to offload some of the problems you may have encountered in your work, to seek further advice on how to progress issues, and it also provides you with a forum for any subjects you wish to raise. The amount of supervision you will need to undergo on a regular basis will depend on the therapy you work in and the membership requirements of any organisations you belong to.
One-to-one sessions will give you a chance to seek further information from your supervisor. For example, they may recommend books or articles which could give you greater insight into how to handle particular situations, or more in-depth knowledge of certain medical conditions that you have encountered in your work. Your supervisor may also be willing to share some of their on-going research with you, or even ask you to help out with workshops they may be running. Your supervisor may also offer you the chance of some personalised training in new techniques or processes. Supervision sessions can be a goldmine for new ideas and will help to shape your thinking on difficult issues – so use your time to the full. Don’t be afraid to ‘shop around’ for a supervisor who best fits your needs, or even swap between two or three supervisors according to their skills and your requirements.
Peer group meetings
Even if your particular area of work does not require that you undergo regular supervision, you might find it helpful to explore the idea of meeting up with fellow practitioners on a regular basis – effectively setting up a peer group. If you set a clear agenda for your meetings you can get every participant to bring something of value with them to the meeting, for example, a summary of a book they have just read that they want to recommend to the group, or a new process they have developed which can be demonstrated to the group.
With everyone’s agreement these meetings could sometimes be turned into mini-workshops on themed topics. At other times the meetings could be used as a brain-storming exercise for exploring better ways of dealing with some client issues, or they could be a chance to learn from others about new marketing tips. To keep the group dynamic, look for different themes each time you meet, agree to meet on a regular basis and alternate where you meet between all the members so that no one is constantly hosting these sessions. The beauty of this arrangement is the flexibility it offers and the enormous potential for personal development and training – but it only works well if all members contribute to each session.
Group meetings or peer supervision are a low cost training option. If you keep the numbers small, for example no more than ten, you can arrange to meet in each others’ houses thereby cutting the cost or the need to hire a meeting room specially. The only other costs will be the costs to the individual for producing whatever it is that they want to share with the group – such as: printing out details of any process they want to showcase, producing small samples of blended oils, or creating any CDs and tapes that they wish to share.
Egroups and newsletters
The free flow of information within an egroup, and the informative articles, tips and hints that newsletters often contain, can provide you with another low-cost way of furthering your development.
If you’re not already a member of an egroup for your therapy, now is the time to join an existing group or maybe set one up yourself. If you are thinking of setting one up yourself you will need to set some basic rules, for example, determining what sort of issues can be discussed by the group, what kind of material can be shared, and what support or help
members of the group can expect to receive or give. If the school or organisation you trained with doesn’t already have its own egroup, you might want to suggest setting one up for them. This will have the added benefit of allowing you access to a database of potential members who may wish to join the group. For more information about setting up egroups, see Chapter 12.
These groups will offer advice and support other members who may be experiencing problems in their work. For example, a more experienced member of the group may email a brief response to a request for help on a particular problem, another member of the group may publish some useful links to other sites or training courses, someone else may use the group in order to showcase their latest research and request other members critique their findings.
A group of local therapists could think about producing their own newsletter, which could include a FAQs (frequently asked questions) sheet on a particular topic or a list of that month’s top ten tips. This could then be circulated to all the members of the group for their information and be used as a way to add to existing skills. This can work in a similar way to the group meeting – but this time a different person is tasked each month to take responsibility for compiling the newsletter and to seek out some newsworthy ideas from other members of the group.
Self-development and training log
Whatever training or development exercises you undertake, it will help your overall future growth if you keep a self-development and training log. This is simply a record of ‘learning’ points you have become aware of during any training or supervision. For example, after reviewing a demonstration of some new techniques that you gave to students you realise that the demonstration could have been better had you planned certain aspects of it more fully, and you can also remember how feeling nervous throughout the whole demonstration meant you didn’t give of your best. Your learning points from that demonstration might be to allocate more time for planning and to review how you could present certain areas of your demonstration more effectively. You might also include a note of your need for some confidence boosting or training in presentation skills in order to help overcome the ‘stage fright’. These insights regarding your possible future development and training needs should be entered in your log so that you can then take these further.
Your entries don’t always have to point out a training need. Sometimes you will want to note down an action you made, or an example you gave on the spur of the moment which had a good result. Note these down as well, as in Figure 18 below, as they will then remind you to incorporate these actions and examples into the mainstream of your work.
It’s good practice to review your training log on a regular basis, in order that any immediate problems can be addressed. Any sizeable chunks of training you require, or costly courses, should be incorporated into your annual business and financial plans.