The variety of settings, contexts and location where practitioners, trainers and students are based creates a wide range of issues to be considered as you plan for how you’ll provide training in the future.
This guidance aims to help you review and develop your organisational policies and procedures relating to course delivery. Our focus is on the wellbeing and safety of all staff, trainers, trainees and clients.
We have reviewed our guidance following the latest government announcements. The information provided reflects the current situation.
While restrictions were in place we introduced flexibilities to enable trainees to practise online or by phone providing they were assessed as competent to work in this way and had appropriate support and supervision to mirror the mode of practice delivery. We also introduced flexibilities for training providers to deliver training remotely via synchronous online video platforms.
Concurrent to this, we’ve developed competences in online and phone therapy, and in February 2021, we published the Online and phone therapy (OPT) competence framework. The competences set out the knowledge, understanding and skills that are required for OPT practice. In May 2021, we published the OPT training curriculum which is underpinned by the OPT competences. The OPT curriculum is aimed at training providers who wish to deliver OPT training. The curriculum has different options for practitioners with varying levels of existing competence ranging from an initial core training to an extended course, or top-up training and CPD.
You can access the OPT competence framework and curriculum here: Online and phone therapy (OPT) competence framework and user guide).
We’ve updated the course accreditation and approved qualification criteria to incorporate these competences, providing a clear position for courses to meet now that restrictions are being lifted.
Tutor contact hours
For courses who want to offer online training in the future, we're introducing changes to our requirements for teaching delivery and placements for new cohorts starting from 1 September 2021, including a requirement for a minimum of 70% of training to be delivered face to face and in person. The remaining 30% can be delivered remotely providing the delivery is synchronous, live and with a tutor. You can find further detail about our guidelines on our website, and these can be incorporated into your planning for teaching delivery after restrictions are lifted.
Students on placement will be able to continue to work remotely providing the majority of hours are face-to-face and the course has suitably prepared them for working in this way. You can find out more about student OPT placements and training requirements here: Guidance for online teaching delivery and remote supervised placements.
Additional CPD such as the Open University primer module may be useful to supplement OPT training. If the placement provides the training, the course is responsible for checking that it covers what is needed to meet the competency areas laid out in the OPT framework and curriculum.
Courses and placements need to work together to ensure that:
- text-based, asynchronous online practice aren’t counted towards the supervised placement hours in core practitioner training
- students can be assessed individually for their readiness to begin working with clients, including working remotely
- students are only working with UK based clients due to the particular legislative, insurance and safeguarding considerations for international practice
- OPT placement hours are only carried out with adults, not with children and young people (under 16 years old) on adult focussed core training courses
- they have clear procedures for practice placements, including procedures for remote working and any requirements for homeworking
- agreements between students, the placement provider and the course include details of where the responsibility lies for data protection for the student's remote practice, and of the placement's remote working support structures, including:
- where OPT sessions will be conducted, with a clear policy for homeworking if relevant
- if the placement will supply the student with appropriate equipment for conducting remote sessions. If not, a clear policy and procedure for the use of personal equipment that includes data security and protection is required.
- how students can debrief after OPT sessions and where to take concerns about their remote client work
- information about additional support services and onward referral pathways that students can share with OPT clients when required
- procedures for when the technology fails during an OPT client session
- how clients are assessed for their suitability to work with students, and for working online or over the phone (and for blended working if permitted by the placement and the course)
From 1 September 2021, the majority of placement hours will need to be face-to-face. If students haven't gained the number of face-to-face placement hours required by the end of their training, we're asking accredited courses and approved qualification partners to give students an extension to enable students to gain these placement hours.
We appreciate that gaining the majority of placement hours face to face might be a challenge for some students this academic year so we're open to being flexible about the proportions, where there are genuine difficulties. However, to ensure competence to work face to face with clients as well as ethical and professional standards, these flexibilities don't extend to students having no face to face placement hours. We’re encouraging courses to incorporate this into an extenuating circumstances or extensions policy to enable students to gain sufficient face to face placement hours to ensure competence before qualification.
Offering online or phone therapy to children and young people while in training
As restrictions are now lifting, all placement hours with children and young people need to be face-to-face to meet current BACP requirements and professional standards.
We’re now developing standards for working remotely with children and young people so we’ll share an update on this in the near future.
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