I recently sent out a questionnaire to all those on my mailing list. I was curious about your views on the training courses for online therapy already available. I wanted to adapt my own group training programme to address any gaps you highlighted and better suit your needs.
I received 71 questionnaire responses and many, many lovely emails from people with their thoughts on this.
11.3% of those who answered felt that the ideal length of a course would be 12 weeks long. I love this answer! This shows commitment to the art of online therapy, and a desire for group collaboration and possibly a longer coaching programme, especially as some individuals who answered said they would prefer for this to be extendable. 22.5% felt 6 weeks would be about right and overwhelmingly, 47.9% felt that 4 weeks would fit for them. This is such helpful information, and I am extrapolating from this that some people want longer and others want an in depth and intense programme.
This chart was so enlightening. People have some time to contribute to learning at the moment, and most people fall into 3-5 hours per week. This would give around 12-20 CPD hours for a four week course or up to 30 for a six week course. I wonder if having flexibility week to week may make this more manageable, so some weeks having a brief practice session of 30 minutes and other weeks doing full hour long practice sessions, so that the intensity was variable.
Contracts are something I am interested in because I believe we set the tone of the therapeutic relationship in our early verbal handwritten contracting procedures. I sell therapy contracts, have a therapy contract writing course for only £27, a free Cancellation Policy course which is VERY detailed on just that one aspect of contracting and generally hand out wordings to various sections on a frequent basis in forums and Facebook groups. This chart means I built my How To Write Your Therapy Contract course INTO my online therapy course. Everybody works on it together, and everybody leaves the course with a complete contract that they wrote themselves (unless they want to buy mine and edit which is fine by me too!).
This is my favourite chart and I am sure you will know why…
56 people responded to the question “There are so many online therapy courses out there. What are they not including that you would want to learn?”. What I was building in my course has pivoted massively as a result of these answers. The biggest theme: Working with people abroad. It came up again and again! Counselling abroad, working with expats, bilingual counselling, reaching out to other Anglo countries like Australia, regulations abroad, client safety when working with clients abroad… I hear you! This is Module 2 now. Complete shift in topic and I can see how important it is, so let’s get there early in the course.
The second most repeated concern? Marketing. I was concerned that people don’t like looking at a screen, but what you are telling me is that once you are online, you need more information about how to connect with clients who are also on screens. How to screen, assess and feel prepared.
One lovely comment in this section said that ongoing contact would be supportive, and another said guidance from a tutor would be something they would like. Fab, I was planning on popping into the Facebook group for the course, and why not do regular Facebook lives answering any questions from the modules? I’ll be scheduling them for Friday afternoons for the duration of the course. Thank you for this lovely suggestion, I completely agree that some direct support is absolutely the difference between completing a course and LOVING a course.
Step by step use of online platforms came up a few times. This is really important. There are several courses which offer video walkthroughs, and each platform has their own video guidance too. We will each have our own preferences and I have found that testing various settings with partners (not clients) is really helpful. I have made some videos of my platform settings and written partner exercises that can guide people in getting to know their chosen platform. In my course, you use whichever platform you prefer, whether that is video, email, text or phone – but you do those partner exercises and get feedback from your partners. This means that therapists from all backgrounds and approaches can practise and learn together.
To those who answered the question about which discussion you would like to hear, thank you. I hear you! 75.7% of 70 people who answered this question wanted to hear clients’ anonymous experiences of online therapy. Done and done. I had an idea for a podcast doing this ages ago, and felt it was too exposed. So now, I have and am continuing to record audio interviews with people (not my clients and not therapists) who have had online therapy and volunteer to be recorded just for the students of this course. Like you, I want to know what is important to them. I want to learn from clients, not just books and theories.
One comment was about demonstration of techniques to use during telehealth and I asked about this later in the questionnaire too. Yes, I agree, I would love to be a fly on the wall in a therapy session! I tried to video demos to fulfil this, but none of them looked like how I really am in session. Why? Because they weren’t real therapy, of course. So with a generous volunteer, I have instead recorded video demonstrations of how to complete the partner exercises, with follow up analysis and feedback explanations so everyone knows how to do their own. This means I recorded reactions to (orchestrated) interruptions, an explanation to a client of regulations for working with people abroad, a screening call, verbal contracting and coaching a client with creating a therapeutic space at home. Some of the demos are hilarious (see cat interruption) and I am continuing to record more options. The important thing here was, I discovered that I could not really “perform” therapy, but I could give examples and analyse afterwards. This means that full length Intake or in depth psychotherapy was not possible, but I hope the partner exercises and role play scenarios will give participants the possibility to experience those situations for themselves.
Other discussions you suggested were accounts from other practitioners who used to dislike online therapy and their journey to loving this medium (58% of you wanted to hear this). Some wanted to hear from other practitioners about interesting things they are doing online, like workshops and groups. So, I found someone who teaches how to start and run therapy groups, Sarah Dosanjh, and we just recorded our interview this week. Other practitioners will be other therapists with different approaches, some of whom have had to completely pivot their business models now that they are not able to work in person.
In terms of price point, I found the results really interesting. For me, with the amount of coaching involvement I was planning in the Facebook group, I originally planned a price point of around £299 for six weeks. I lowered it for the first run, and then lowered it again to make it manageable for people who may have already paid for a course or might be struggling during lockdown to bring in new enquiries. So my full fee price point is £199, which was considered manageable by only 12.9% of you.
One person was happy with £199 but preferred it to be done in four weeks. The largest proportion was 20.3% who felt £129 would be manageable, and 18.8% felt £49 would work. I went for £79 as a pre-sale deep discount as I will continue adding content and engagement as the course progresses. I have a feeling I will return to my original price point of £299 as the content and involvement increases, but for now, my priority is accessibility and connection.
There was a fairly even spread of interest in the various learning formats I suggested including self study, Live Q&As, videos, text, audio, worksheets and partner practice. Videos seemed the most popular, which I did not expect at all. This means I am writing scripts and learning to edit videos concurrently as I type this so that I can continue improving the course!
Finally, I asked what therapists would find helpful in building an online practice. I am so grateful for the thoughtful responses to this question. Two main themes popped up here. The first is marketing. No problem. Module 6.
The second was confidence. Confidence in being ethical, more practice, phrases like “I am not sure if…” and “I don’t know how I’m coming across” and “how to set up…”, “anything that builds confidence and hope!”. Every few lines appears the word “confidence”. I hear that. Who can build a practice with imposter syndrome knocking at the door? Building confidence, supporting you with collaboration. This means you do the learning and I am here to support you. It means I create the parameters for you to build your own hope and confidence. It means I respond to comments and questions and emails. It means community building and self discovery.