The section on training and education is really designed to support trainers in taking on the challenges of their role. So it points to the importance of being competent as a trainer and having the skills that are involved in communicating and developing practice in other people over and above being a good practitioner.
And what are the trainers’ responsibilities to their trainees in terms of helping them make good decisions that are informed decisions about their choices of courses and the choices within courses. Because there’s a lot at stake for trainees in any assessment involved in training the importance of fairness, both in how people are recruited to courses and selected, but also in their assessments.
And then, perhaps the most important and perhaps the most powerful learning tool that we have available to us when we are training it’s modelling. So often what we do, speaks so much more powerfully than what we say, and that’s a real challenge to us when we’re in a training role, we have to model our good practice.
There are new sections in the section which concern the use of examples in practice that are derived from our work with clients, about encouraging trainees to raise any concerns or practice related difficulties in a way in which they, that doesn’t blame them for having those difficulties and trying to find constructive outcomes, treating it at least as an learning opportunity.
This section provides an overview of the sorts of ethical issues that many trainers and educators encounter in their everyday practice when working with trainees.
Q1: What are the essential skills and knowledge that a trainer needs over and above being a good counsellor or psychotherapist?
The very simple, but not very informative answer to that is anything that helps them to be a better trainer. But there are some clear things which we might not have from just simply being a competent practitioner with clients. So knowing how to design a course, what planning of the curriculum and the key content, and perhaps the most challenging part of any successful training is actually developing the skills to deliver that and support the learning process of the people you are offering training to, so you meet them at the point they are starting from and you take them forward to some notion, to some idea that you have of what would constitute good practice in that particular topic.
Q2: What is the concern behind the new requirements about using examples of work with clients for teaching in Good Practice point 78 – especially if the example is anonymised?
This particular requirement grew from a number of the examples where clients felt that things that they’d shared in confidence in the sessions with the practitioner had been used either without their consent in training situations, or if the information that was being disclosed had been disguised, it didn’t totally protect their identity, and that they had become identifiable to the students hearing the example.
So we wanted to the draw people’s attention to the potential difficulties, as well as the enormous learning opportunities, that these sorts of examples do, and also it does relate, it touches on some of the aspects of the new data protection requirements where, again, really you are faced with the choice of client consent or really thorough anonymisation, and clearly I think client consent is the safest of the two and discussing with them how you they would like to be presented and what safeguards they require.
Q3: How should a trainer implement Good Practice, point 80, that encourages trainees to raise any concerns and to discuss any practice-related difficulties without blame? What if the trainee can’t or won’t improve and works at a level below the required standard?
This is probably one of the most challenging situations any trainer faces, and this ethical requirement is itself quite challenging to deliver. But what it, what it is requires of us, is that we at least in the initial stages hear someone’s concerns or difficulties in a constructive way and treat that as a learning opportunity for the person and support them in developing their practice.
Now in many instances that will be the end of the story, the practice will develop and it will move beyond the area of concern, but what if it doesn’t? And this is the heart of this question, then any good course will have some system for alerting trainees clearly that their practice is below the required standard and will have what is often called a cause for concern type process which then identifies what it is the trainee needs to achieve in order to satisfy the requirement and the basis on which that assessment will be made and also it’s very clear about the consequences if that is, if the trainee still can’t meet that training requirement.
So it’s trying to be, trying to move away from a situation where one’s being, burdening a trainee, with being very judgmental and blaming, to trying to both be fair to their learning opportunities but at the same time maintain the professional standards.