Welcome back - i've been away from this website for a few weeks and it's great to make contact with you again. If you signed up or found us over the summer 'Hello'. I hope where ever you are that you've been able to take a break sometime in the past few months and step away from your computer, zoom meetings, and living life online.
I've been busy with another new project that I'll tell you more about later. But this blog is about new beginning and that exciting optimistic sense we get when a new academic year lies ahead of us full of possibilities. You open that new diary, with its fresh new smell, and it's completely empty and full of promise of what is to come, what might be, what may happen. This is a great time to take a minute and be a bit thoughtful about what to fill those beautiful clean, empty pages with. Most years I've utterly failed to do that and all that lovely empty time has somehow been buried underneath meetings. But this year, which we know will be like no other year we've lived in, can be different. Our diaries will not fill themselves with holidays, weekends away, nights out, conferences, and travel. We can take back a bit of control.
So take a bit of control now. What do you want to learn or develop this year? If you are not joining a formal training programme and are already qualified, one of your professional responsibilities is to look after your own professional development. But somehow, our own development and well-being doesn't get given the priority it needs. So this year do it differently. Thinking back to a previous blog make sure that in this new academic year you 'Do More of What Matters'. Remember, this is about what matters to you; your development, your working self, and your future. Go back to your professional organisation, which ever one that is, and download their CPD guide. Use supervision to consider your interests and frustrations. Talk to your colleagues and friends about what matters, and how to make sure you do more of it. Think about how you spend most of your time and where you fit in what really matters. Consider the road untaken, the question asked but so far unanswered, the niggling gap in a skillset that you want to develop but haven't found time for - until this year.
Don't be afraid of doing some thing difficult. I've spent most of my working life hearing colleagues regret their lack of confidence in statistics and research. And this really matters. All competent mental health clinicians need to be able to understand the basics of research. I know that many don't but I truly believe this is important for our profession, for us and for our clients and the wider health and social services we work in and with. Understanding the basics of research helps us make important clinical decisions, engage in, discuss and implement recent research findings, and think critically about how we understand what our clients and patients say to us and what that might mean. Yet somehow, despite research methods and design being a core and compulsory element of every psychology degree, most graduate psychologists are scared of research. And as we all know fear often leads to avoidance. And avoidance makes fear even worse. The only way to overcome fear is to overcome avoidance.
So grab the opportunities out there and make this the year you get to grips with the basics of standard deviation, z scores, and t-tests. Or take the next step up and learn about multivariate statistics. There are brilliant and FREE online courses out there, e.g. https://online-learning.harvard.edu/subject/statistics that will change the way you see yourself and the world. And forget about not being good at maths...research design and methods are tools, you don't need to learn complex mathematical formulae. This is about learning to ask questions in a different way, and then learning to understand, or interpret the answers. You can learn about critical appraisal without knowing much about statistics - have a look at these resources and learn how to read a research paper
As well as doing something difficult and challenging it's also great to plan to do things that are more familiar, engaging and stimulating. In the past I've loved learning from expert clinicians at conferences and workshops and I've been lucky enough to do that regularly and often. Although we can't do that in person at the moment some leading clinicians have been generous enough to record free in depth training in their clinical method. So for example check out this website http://caaps.web.unc.edu/training-resources-landing-page/principle-behavioral-activation/
Here you will find Christopher Martell, one of the leading lights in the development of Behavioral Activation for depression, teaching and demonstrating the treatment method in a series of videos, all designed with free dissemination in mind. It's a terrific gift to trainees and clinicians around the worlds and fills the important gap that the absence of clinical workshops has left since March 2020. I've recently been sent another set of recordings by Laura Mufson on Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) for adolescent depression ...i'll be adding them to the website later today but here they are now https://effectivechildtherapy.fiu.edu/course/view.php?id=42 Thank you to Maria Loades for sending these - please let me know of any more examples that you know about. This website is here to give us all the opportunity to do something new, something challenging, something engaging or difficult, and to learn and develop in our profession.
And so here is where i tell you about my own new venture. I took voluntary redundancy from Reading University in July 2019. Since then I've been busy, very busy, supervising PhD students, writing papers, going to conferences (at least until March 2020), and basically doing the enjoyable bits of an academic job - but without pay. I've also really enjoyed building this website and finding great FREE online training for us all to enjoy. It's been great fun and fantastic for my own development.
But at some point the bills must be paid and the wolf must be kept from the door. So, with my friend and colleague, Rod Holland, I have developed a new business offering Live Online clinical workshops. It's called CBTReach - I hope you check out the website www.cbtrearch.org and let me know what you think about it. Or follow us on twitter @cbtreach. We've worked really hard to develop a great programme of CPD for CBT therapists. There are some amazing clinical stars coming up - including Christopher Martell (see above). We've been working with some fantastic people and I have learned enough over the past few months to fill my CPD log for a lifetime. And guess what, I'm now a company director! Ridiculous. Let's see if it keeps the wolf from the door as intended.