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How to get the most out of your registrar training

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

So you have finished your Masters, Doctorate or PhD training and you are standing at the precipice of investing in registrar training in order to achieve your endorsed area of practice. How do you know if the training is going to be any good, and not simply be an expensive hoop jumping exercise?


Even at a discounted supervision rate of $175 per session, and piecing together the cheapest possible CPD, you are about to spend the best part of $20,000 on this next part of your education. Getting it right matters.


Here are some things to consider when you are starting your endorsement training.


What are your blind spots ?


Despite the best of intentions, most psychology graduates come out of university with a handful of areas in which they lack skills or confidence. Maybe you had a supervisor who was excellent at CBT (or ACT, or Psychodynamic) and viewed everything through that lens. While you may have gained extensive skills in this one area, you might feel underdone in others. It is much easier to identify and work on these gaps at this stage in your career, rather than 5 years down the track when the expectation will be a rounded skill-set


Where do you see your career going ?


Some registrars are already clear about a particular group of clients they want to work with. If you are confident in this decision, there might be little value in a very general placement. But remember that what seems exciting and filled with passion now might not be in 20 years time, so don’t close your other options if you aren’t sure. Many registrars want to “get a taste for everything”, which is often a way of saying that their internship was a bit too focused on a couple of different areas and that having a bit of a wider sample might be good. If this is you, private practice may be an excellent option, but make sure you ask the question as to what type of clients you can expect to see, in terms of diagnosis, cultural groups, age, severity and acuity. This will give you confidence that the place you are going to work, will provide you with the learning opportunities you need


How do you plan to develop your skills


The research is pretty clear that practice does not make perfect, in fact practice simply makes permanent. Neither a high performing athlete or musician would rely on a plan of just doing lots of practice in order to get better so you shouldn't either. What we know of skills development is that you need a few specific things;

  • A clear sense of what skills you need to work on

  • Someone who can help you break complex skills down to component parts so they can be learned

  • Opportunities to practice these skills, both within and just outside of your comfort zone.

  • Feedback, both for when you do well and when you fall short of the targets you set for yourself

  • A trusting relationship with someone who you feel safe giving you this feedback.


Simply signing up for 80 chats about specific clients or general psychology topics will not ensure you develop skills in the way you hope. It's a good idea to think carefully about your plan to attain the outcomes you desire.


What do you like / need in a supervisor?


It is important to bear in mind that the answer to these two things might be different. You might like someone who is very challenging and thought provoking, but what you really need is someone who is supportive and encouraging while you find your feet, or the opposite may be true. Be honest with yourself and think about what you are looking for in a supervisor (or supervisors). Think back to previous supervision you have received; what was really powerful and helped you grow, what was simply wasting time and filling in paperwork, and what were the things you really want to avoid. Don't be afraid to have these conversations with potential supervisors. If you’re not comfortable with the answers they are giving I would suggest you keep looking.


How to choose CPD


A smaller but equally important part of your registrar training is the professional development component. If you have spent any time online, you will see a dizzying array of training options. Some of it is excellent, much of it is average, and some of it borders on dangerous. I am going to assume that at this stage in your career, you already have the skills to look into the techniques being offered, and the credentials of the people offering this training to decide what is worthwhile. However, even if you avoid this pitfall, research suggests that single day training workshops are unlikely to lead to any real learning or behaviour change. For training to be effective, it must be skills based, it must have agreed follow up activities and ideally it should have some element of accountability (assessment, or reporting back after a period of time or similar). Make sure you look for these type of training opportunities, otherwise you are likely investing money with a very low likelihood of gain


The PREP program developed by the team at Benchmark Psychology has been designed with all of these considerations in mind. Take a look and get a sense of what registrar training could look like. You might feel the PREP program is a good fit for you. Otherwise, it could be a good resource to help you design your own program. Visit us at www.prep.clinic

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