Choosing our CPD?

Therapeutic tool bag It’s about this time in the academic year when my learners, especially those who are about to graduate as qualified counsellors ask ‘How do we go about choosing our CPD? ’- ‘Where do I go from here?’ 

As with all professions there is an expectation that those who continue to practice as counsellors engage in what is termed ‘continuing professional development’, CPD for short.
Most reputable counselling courses in the UK last three years and in that time you will probably engage in 600 guided learning hours at an academic institution or training provider with a 100 hours of placement face to face therapeutic work with clients of which you will receive supervision.

While all this sounds comprehensive and satisfies the BACP’s membership criteria, it breaks down to the equivalent of attending a 20 week, 7 hour a day training course.

Of course the ‘math’ does not tell the full story of training , there are assignments , group supervision, finding a placement ,self study and personal reflection, however the question still remains  ‘how much do you really understand the modality of therapy you studied, when on a bright morning in August your qualification drops through the letter box after three years of training?’

There is a well repeated phrase in the world therapy to describe professional development -Apprentice, Journeyman, Master Craft; this rather masculine terminology describes a learning journey without end. 

My advice is to think carefully when choosing CPD and think very carefully, if you decide to train in a differing therapeutic approach, ask yourself have you lost faith in or how much do you really understand about the model you were trained in?

Having a large therapeutic tool bag may sound like a good idea, however really understanding your craft is a completely different kettle of fish. which takes time, practice and most of all commitment. 

What are your thoughts on choosing CPD opportunities and training in differing models as soon as you have qualified?

You can leave a comment below..

  • Sonia Sweeney

    I have to confess that although I still have a year till I graduate, I am already looking at CPD courses, mainly, because I am the sort of person who wants to have a big bag of tools. It says more about me than the approach I am training in but what can I say if when I have TA thrown at me I feel I get it so much and everything makes sense. What about systemic which I love? I feel I cannot go through my professional development life without at least exploring these ideas in more depth. I am a chronic student anyway…

  • Rory


    Thank you for the reply; I salute your appetite for learning and searching out the meaning of other modalities.

    Let me share a little story with you, a few years ago I had a friend who owned an old Mercedes car that had little residual value but to him it was like an old friend.

    It started cutting out, stopping for no reason so he took into a local mechanic who charged him a fortune and for a while it ran but then the cut out again..

    He returned to the mechanic who admitted that he did not know enough about this model and he got some of his money back.

     He decided that he would take his car to a Mercedes main dealer whose reception was emblazoned by the many mechanics certificates of training and CPD hanging on the walls.

    The repair bay had diagnostic equipment and tool boxes lining every wall, after two hours the mechanic came out and told him that they had put it on the diagnostic machine, but could find no fault, the mechanic said they could keep looking but the hourly rate was eye watering so my friend decided to cut his losses, paid and left

    The car still cut out.

    Eventually after leaving the car on the drive for a month he found a specialist Mercedes mechanic who had spent all his working life as a mechanic before specialising in the repair of older Mercedes cars.

    My friend explained what was wrong and the mechanic asked lots of questions, some which my friend thought were not really relevant.

    Eventually the bonnet of the car was opened,  the mechanic removed part of the fuel filter and went on to describe how a tiny hole in it, due to wear had becone to large, causing inconsistent fuel supply, which is why the car cut out at random intervals

    He charged my friend £20, changed the part and the car never cut out again, although the engine wore out eventually..

    The point of this little story is that having a craft can make a difference; it does not take much of jump of imagination to substitute the car for a person, the mechanics for therapists, my friend for a concerned loved one, finding help for someone they love.

    The danger of eclecticism in training is that we can become a jack of all trades and a master of none, and our clients deserve better than that because like the car their lives are finite too.


    Counselling Tutor