What made people decide to train?
There will be as many answers to this as students on the course, arising out of a wide variety of life, work and previous training experiences. However, a recurring theme was a wish to take existing training further to enable work at a deeper level and get to grips with major theoretical issues from a variety of viewpoints. There was also a shared interest in furthering personal growth and development.
What were the aspects of this course that were most attractive?
The course attracted people because it sets a high value on individuality: “nobody tells you what you ought to think”. Its student-led, non-hierarchical structure was attractive, as was the opportunity of working co-operatively in a group. We feel that previous experience is valued, and we do not feel infantilised. There is the opportunity for personal discovery within training, and the emphasis on personal therapy and supervision is welcomed. The self-managed nature of the training means that there is no expensive superstructure of staff and administration, which allows greater freedom and flexibility, and keeps costs low. UKCP recognition was mentioned as a factor, as was the local nature of the course, and the fact that it connects us to a Cambridge-based psychotherapy network.
What was your experience of the selection procedure?
We felt it to be thorough and searching. Being part of a seminar group with existing students was a challenging experience, but served as a “taster” for the training itself. People felt that the process of finding out and being found out about was a genuinely two-way one, and that we came away with an accurate picture of what the Outfit was like.
Before the start of the course, how informed did you feel about each stage of the training?
The training is not designed in stages, and this lack of structure did feel difficult at the start, but the challenge of making your own structure is welcomed, and seen as a major opportunity to develop self-motivation, discernment and self-containment. We recognise that personal development is organic, not chronological, and we felt that the design of the course reflects the model of therapy; you can’t know what’s coming next. The new edition of the Information for New Members folder gives new students a clear and explicit introduction to the Outfit and its philosophy and structure, and we welcome this. There are also plenty of opportunities to ask for information and feedback as the course progresses.
How do you feel about the way information is communicated?
This takes some getting used to. The Outfit is a network, and it can be difficult to know where information is located, and who to ask. Information difficulties fluctuate, and seem to be greater when the student group is larger.
What do you find the most confusing aspect of the training?
As above. Because the Outfit is a network, there is no single Outfit “voice”. The training evolves as you mature.
How much opportunity do you have to share thoughts and feelings with fellow trainees?
There are many opportunities built into the structure of the course through weekly meetings and pairings, and additional opportunities can be created as and when needed. There is also the opportunity to share with ordinary members at monthly meetings and business meetings.
What do you feel about the methods of teaching?
We are responsible for choosing and creating our own methods of learning, which can sometimes be hard work. We are constantly reviewing our learning needs, and take advice from ordinary members when planning our reading and study. We invite internal and external speakers on a regular basis.
What do you think about the way assessments were done to allow you to progress to the next stages of training?
At the moment this happens most intensively during the graduation process. The whole issue of assessment/evaluation is kept constantly under review, and there is support for the idea of this beginning to happen at an earlier stage in the course. We preferred the term evaluation, and felt that self-evaluation using feedback from peers and others was the best model. We have the opportunity for using our pairings with peers and ordinary members for this purpose.
Has the course met your expectations?
We found this question difficult to answer, as expectations varied widely, and many of us felt that we hadn’t known clearly what to expect from a psychotherapy training. By and large, we felt that our expectations have been met, challenged and broadened, and our expectations of ourselves continue to rise.
How do you feel about your future with the organisation?
We welcome the prospect of continuing involvement with the Outfit network through pairings and First Monday meetings, and through business meetings in which we will continue to have a say in decision-making. Because of the nature of the group, we expect future involvement to be easy, natural and accessible.
What plans do trainees have for future practice and possible balance of different sorts of work in their career?
Many of us also work in other settings, both therapeutic and non-therapeutic. There were felt to be real difficulties of integrating clinical practice with the need to make a living, especially in Cambridge where there is a plentiful supply of psychotherapists.