When someone expresses interest in one of my online courses, the first question is often “When can I start?” The next question is, “Is there a test?” And the final question is always, “Where is my certificate?”
If you look at my list of courses you know the topics are varied and cover a wide range for Therapists, Coaches and other allied health professionals. I also offer personal growth courses for individuals I call “Seekers.” My teaching style or pedagogy is different than many online courses, especially for those seeking clock hours or continuing education toward a certification or license.
Required Continuing Education
Many mental health professionals take online courses for the ease and convenience. This ease and convenience has been flagged by some states as, well, just not good enough. For instance, Georgia will only allow so many continuing education hours to be earned online and all required ethics hours must be completed in-person. I find this interesting and in some ways it is backward thinking in the digital age. We can now receive fully accredited doctoral degrees online but certain states dictate we must travel to a workshop location and hear the message in a room with 50 or 200 other people.
Why is that? My guess is because online learning, in it’s simplest form is usually a series of videos, audios and or written material that one glances through to the final test which is usually multiple choice. In many learning platforms there are ways to skip ahead or just let that video play while the student multitasks away the day. The assumption is that no real learning has taken place and that being live in the room with a speaker/teacher somehow changes the comprehension outcome. Personally, I kinda doubt it. I think both of these approaches are flawed. And don’t get me wrong. I traveled the country for a decade teaching mental health professionals. I must say it was challenging to keep the audience engaged. During that decade I was asked to create an online certification course and my main concern was creating an environment that was conducive to learning, comprehending and synthesizing the material.
What is the difference?
My courses are online and self-paced but in some ways, the course material is offered in real time. By that I mean that I am registering you, corresponding with you and creating your certificate of completion once you have finished. When you click to pay for a course I am notified and I register you (usually within the hour if during regular business hours). My courses are not automated. No automated multiple choice tests exist. Instead, you are required to either read, watch or listen and then tell me in your own words what you learned.
Answer me this.
A typical question I ask in many professional development courses is,
How does the information in this lesson inform your work?
This is applied learning.
Once you give me a couple of solid paragraphs, I respond back in writing. You receive notice that I have reviewed your lesson. If you have asked additional questions, I do my best to answer with resources and references as needed. In this way, I am not just facilitating a course, I am mentoring you along the way. Many students prefer this hands-on approach. Granted, some do not and that is why I try to educate people about my teaching style before they sign on for a course.
For those enrolled in Specialist Certificates (Clinical Supervision, Intuitive Wellness Coach, Intuitive Aromatherapy) additional mentoring is available via email or a video/phone call. Specialist Certificates are courses that range from 50 clock hours to 200 clock hours and the topics often call for more in-depth processing of material.
Here’s the downside to learning with me.
Life. It happens. And since my courses are not automated, that means if you managed to complete 5 lessons in a day but I am at one of those in-person training events, it may be a few days before I am able to properly review and respond to your course feedback. That’s not so bad, right? It really isn’t. But sometimes life throws real curve balls like hurricanes or death of a family member. Work can get messy. But you know this right? In turn, when you are enrolled in a course and life takes you for a turn, I get it. In that way, learning from me becomes a collaborative effort and that may be more than you really wanted to deal with if you just need 5 continuing education credits.
Why do I teach this way anyway?
My own professional training is rooted in the field of counseling and psychology. As a licensed psychotherapist for 20+ years, clinical supervisor for nearly as many years and a coach educator for a decade, I have seen many ethical situations that could have been avoided if the practitioner had learned differently in a more applied, experiential manner. Much of my career involved determining the fate of families and children in the balance and when I taught a topic I wanted to be sure that my employees or supervisees really understood the magnitude of their responsibilities. For several years I was the Ethics Chair for counselor associations in Georgia and New York. For many more years I was on the Credentialing Committee for Workplace Options, one of the largest EAP in the United States. Simply said, I feel ethically bound to be sure my students are offered the best opportunity to understand the topic- whatever that topic is, and especially if their work involves guiding others.
My course requirements are created so that a person receives solid information in a timely fashion but also offered the opportunity to do the deep dive on a given course topic. A 5- hour course usually takes 5 hours to complete. A 200-hour course will take approximately 200 hours. If the course offers professional development/continuing education credit, I have set the course up to meet the organization’s rules for what constitutes 1 clock hour of learning. You can find out more about how I develop and curate course content here.