Sometimes I feel that we are being snowed under an avalanche of initials and acronyms in our lives. For example we might intend to drive our SUV to the GP but the ABS has gone AWOL so we send an SOS to the AA or RAC because it’s not a DIY job. They come ASAP after helping at a RTA where a BMW and VW were clipped by a classic MGB GT. Back on the road again we follow a cheerful yellow JCB pulling a trailer with a heavy RSJ on it. We make it to the GP but they send us to A&E where we show our ID and give our DOB. In return we’re given a sheet of FAQs and an ECG. All is well so we’re LOL and go for some R&R and a G&T.
It’s really no different for us as practitioners with our own collection of initials and acronyms including ADHD, BACP, CBT, DNA, WHO, NICE, PTSD and of course TAP. However there’s one set of initials that can enliven us just by its very sound: CPD. As we know `Continued Professional Development` is an ethical requirement for most of us and comes in all shapes and sizes. The BACP is generous in it’s definition and explains CPD as; "Any learning experience that can be used for the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of competence, knowledge and skills to ensure that the practitioner has the capacity to practise safely, effectively and legally within their evolving scope of practice. It may include both personal and professional development."
So, the scope, range and possibilities of CPD are virtually endless but do we see these infinite opportunities as such or have we fixed ideas on the subject which influence what we may or may not try?
Here at TAP Towers the committee is pacing up and down the long corridors wondering how best now to provide a little of what it’s members have come to expect: quality Talks and Workshops which historically has fulfilled much of it’s participants requirement for CPD at a reasonable cost. The dilemma of course is caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which has changed the way we live our lives and the way we do things.
It seems likely now that any Course, Workshop or Training Programme will be delivered by an online communication tool such as Skype or Zoom for the foreseeable future because of the restrictions around the pandemic. But how do we relate to these new ways of learning as opposed to in the flesh, face to face interactions? I guess we are all fairly use to seeing commentators on the TV reporting on some event or another from their own home (usually in front of a huge bookcase filled with hugely intellectual tomes). Often the quality is good but sometimes they disappear in pixelated chaos or take on the voice of a Dalek. The positioning of the laptop camera is vital here, so that we do not focus solely on the commentator’s nasal hair.
The concept of Distance Leaning of course is not a new one as anyone who has studied with the Open University will confirm. The OU was set up in 1969 by the Labour Government of the time under Prime Minister Harold Wilson and has been a great success. However Distance Leaning goes back a lot further to 1728 when Caleb Phillips advertised his new method of learning Short Hand through weekly mailed lessons.
Many of us will keep a record of the books that we read related to our work as proof of our learning. This can also be applied to informative TV programmes such as Panorama when topics such mental health are explored and possibly some movies with an educational element to them, Analyze This (1999) Analyze That (2002) and Anger Management (2003) contain some useful thought provoking snippets. The relationship between Freud and Jung is examined in A Dangerous Method (2011) and is an excellent way to spend 99 minutes. We can also organize our own field trips to places such as the Freud Museum in London or Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam now both open for a timed visit.
For myself I went to Aberfan in South Wales three years ago to visit the site of Pantglas Junior School. As many will remember, this is where on the 21st October 1966 a spoil tip belonging to the local colliery collapsed after heavy rain sending thousands of tons of black mud and slurry onto the school and nearby houses killing 116 children and 28 adults. The aim of the visit was not some macabre curiosity but an investigation into the amount of residue trauma remaining in the village after all these years. My learning from this trip was immense, partly because I was able to interview ten people, one of which was pulled from the wreckage on that dreadful day. So with the aid of the photos that I took and the interviews I was able to put together a substantial description of Aberfan and the thoughts of it’s people in the present day.
Our professional development is just that `our` development and will be different from our colleague’s development because of who we are. Naturally this will be influenced by our upbringing, ethnicity, values, interests, finances, hobbies, sexual orientation and a whole raft of other variables. With this in mind it’s likely that there will be an overlap of our professional self and our personal self. The artistic, musical, practical, extroverted, outdoorsy, sporty, theatrical, reserved, petrol headed, peace loving, bookish, family minded and spiritual among us can pursue personal growth and in many cases address our professional development simultaneously. For example take the amateur artist critiquing her latest work. What does it represent? What lies beneath? Why paint it now? Why those colours? What is left out and why? The work here could be quite valuable.
So we have established that CPD can be found almost anywhere from books, films, TV programs, museums and visits to motivating places all the way to this blog that you are reading right now and not just the Talks, Workshops and Training Programs that we all attended in person before the Lockdown. The only real limits to CPD are the ones that we impose on ourselves.
© 2020 David Trott - TAP Council Member