Thursday, July 30, 2009

Training the Trainers Research Summer School

Entry for 28 July 2009:

I’m on my way home from my two-day stint at the Second Training the Trainers Research Summer School at the University of Leicester. Last year’s summer school was so successful that we decided to repeat it, following roughly the same plan as last year: Two days on practice-based and case study research with Sue Wheeler and me, followed by another two days on using the research literature and doing qualitative research with John McLeod and Sue, and winding up with Sue and Kaye Richards talking about research supervision on Friday. This year, however, we also had our new draft trainer’s manual to test out.

Once again, the summer school attracted a diverse but passionate group of counselling trainers. Many were in various stages of rethinking their courses in anticipation of approaching changes in the form of the new BACP accreditation standards and the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy. Other were looking for support for their own MSc and PhD research projects, or simply trying to make their research inputs more effective.

After introductions and a helpful update from Sue, I launched into a shorter version on my professorial lecture from last month. The graphics in this talk make it quite appealing, I think. This was followed by the Outcome Monitoring input. After lunch we had the participants break into small groups to try out one of the exercises in the Trainer’s Manual. All of this appeared to go well indeed, and we had several very stimulating discussions along the way, contributed to by the diversity of theoretical orientations, types of training course, and backgrounds of the trainers present.

Today was Case Study Day, but to get there I first had to introduce qualitative change process measures, i.e., the Helpful Aspects of Therapy (HAT) Form and the Change Interview. The systematic case study presentation overwhelmed last year’s group, and I’d done a lot of work afterwards simplifying and clarifying the input so that it would be appropriate for diploma-level input. I discovered that it is still not simple and user-friendly enough, but it is definitely getting there: the presentation went much better than last year, and I was able to figure out how to make it even clearer. All this led to some very interesting discussions about what would be possible at the diploma level. Then, Sue, seeing that some of the participants were flagging, had them break up into small groups to discuss how to implement a student case study requirement. I love it when Sue does that.

So, once again the Training the Trainers Research Summer School was off to a good start. I was torn, as I left them: sorry to miss the energy they brought, but really looking forward to getting home and my upcoming vacation.

This time, on the first day, I made a point of talking about the fact that our site, Vaughan College, is built overlooking the ruins of the social nexus of the ancient Roman city of Ratae Corieltauvorum, today known as Leicester (=the fort on the river Ligore): the baths. These are overlooked by the Jewry Wall (the name is too difficult to explain but has nothing to do with Judaism), which originally separated the baths form the gymnasium next door. As a result, many of the participants made a point of exploring the ruins during breaks. This year, the juxtaposition of ancient Roman ruins and forward-looking practice-based research methods created a satisfying complement. After all, the Roman baths were quite high-tech for their time, and I think the ancient Romans would have appreciated our interest in quantitative and qualitative ways of knowing as well as case study methods. The Romans were nothing if not organized, while at the same time inheriting the Greek tradition of humanism. If summer schools could be dedicated to someone, I’d dedicate my two days to the ancient Roman-Briton city today known as Leicester.

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