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I Want Training–Where Do I Start?

In a previous post, I discussed the development of my therapist toolbox, and how many therapists gradually integrate complementary skills that they can use with many different clients.

Today, I want to go deeper where this knowledge is and how do people get it. This is both for new therapists, but also clients who want a clearer picture on therapist training, and so they can ask their therapist what they mean if they say they have trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, for example.

Level 1: I read a book on that

The cheapest version of continuing education is to read a book. Clinicians today can choose from memoirs, new treatment methods, source material on classic methods, and of course cutting edge research.

Level 2: Some formal training

Then there are one-day classes and conferences. I just finished the International Play Therapy conference soon. I won’t be a certified Play Therapist, but I will have about 40 hours of training under my belt. However, the training will slip away from me unless I can find a way to use and integrate into my current schema and toolbox.

Level 3: Integration into cases

This one can be a little nervewracking for a clinician fresh after a training.

Tip 1: Here’s what they told us after our first (of two) rounds of EMDR training: pick your easiest cases, not the ones most in dire need of this new tool you have. This is good advice.
Tip 2: I’ll also add that I choose clients I have the most rapport with as my guinea pigs and I’m very transparent with them about the fact that I’m not a pro at this yet. Because I feel comfortable with them and know them well, I’m able to do better than I otherwise would in executing the technique and because they trust me, they’re willing to commit to the process and because they think I’m a genius therapist, we get the extra kick from placebo effect. Also, brand new therapy technique + brand new client = not the best way to get feedback.


There’s no substitution for great supervision when developing new skills. Only supervision will give individualized feedback to encourage your timid steps to success or help you correct course before you get too far down the road. It is totally appropriate to ask your therapist if they are receiving supervision or consultation and to ask about that person, since they may be consulting about your case.
While it may feel weird that your therapist might talking about you when you’re not there, a client almost always benefits from a second opinion. And the time isn’t used to bash or criticize a client (unless both therapist and consultant are both incompetent and lack empathy, in which case you have bigger problems than how they discuss you)—instead it’s used to examine the therapist and the work the therapist is doing with you.

Certification and Licensing

In my last post, we talked about labels that therapists can get, what they mean and how to tell if it’s good. This is a huge topic and it was a long post.  Check it out!

Open book photo available from Shutterstock

I Want Training–Where Do I Start?

Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

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APA Reference
Staggs, S. (2015). I Want Training–Where Do I Start?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Oct 2015
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