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Is CPD impacting your Imposter Syndrome?

Do you ever feel that you need a certificate for every counselling subject that comes up?

And that if you don't, you are somehow failing as a counsellor or letting your clients down?

If so, take a listen because in this podcast I explore the continuous pull for CPD training and the impact it has on you and your confidence.


In this episode, I'll be looking at:

  • How the drive to continuously take CPD has been affected during lockdown
  • Why it could be problematic
  • How it can impact on Imposter Syndrome
  • What you can do instead

So if you’re spending every waking minute learning, and are starting to feel confused and overwhelmed then take a listen to the podcast below, or read on for more. 

(And remember, in the Grow Your Private Practice membership, you’ll find a whole host of certified CPD courses)

Are you putting yourself under pressure to do ever more CPD?

Do you ever feel that you need a certificate for every counselling subject that comes up and that if you don't, you are somehow failing as a counsellor or letting your clients down?

I’ve noticed more and more members talking about this recently. This isn’t a new subject for me to talk about and actually, I’ve already written a blog about this. I talk about how constantly taking more and more training can be a form of procrastination, because while you’re still in training, you aren’t actually getting started with clients. 

You can read it here: Shall I get another qualification before starting in private practice?

So, whilst this isn't a new subject for me to talk about, I believe lockdown has made it worse for people. 

Mindset really does matter.

In the Grow Your Private Practice membership, we have a monthly call called Mindset Matters. It's a coaching call that looks at all sorts of different aspects of mindset like self-sabotage, Imposter Syndrome, perfectionism... the list goes on. 

And the subject of CPD training comes up A LOT - people feel they:

  • Should be doing more courses
  • Should be attending more workshops
  • Should be reading more books
  • Should know more stuff. 

That's a lot of 'shoulds'!

Now, let me be clear: I’m not referring to a natural, positive curiosity or a need to keep up to date with your professional learning; that's all fine. It's great to want to keep learning. 

What I'm talking about is the opposite - the negative version of that. 

  • Feeling that you're not enough unless you take more qualifications
  • Feeling you can't help your clients enough unless you know every aspect of a subject
  • Feeling that you have to have in-depth knowledge about all your clients. 

A feeling that you don't know enough. 

A feeling that you aren't enough. 

It's basically Imposter Syndrome, isn't it? 

It's that feeling that if a new client turns up with an issue that's slightly different to what you've worked with before, that you should be highly knowledgeable about that specific subject before you feel confident enough to work with them. 

So again, just to be clear here, if somebody turns up and says they've got anorexia and you have no experience working with issues around food, then, of course, you don't have the specific training for that client and should refer them to someone that does. 

But, if somebody presents with something totally within your capability, like anxiety, and during a session they talk about being bullied in the past, it’s that feeling that you need to take a course on bullying because otherwise, you won't be good enough to help that person.

Why has this recently become more prevalent amongst counsellors?

When lockdown happened, many counsellors realised that in order to keep working they would need to learn a new skill ie taking online clients. So they took a course to learn how to do that. 

So far so good. 

But I think in order for people to continue to earn a living, many have started to utilise their knowledge and skills to offer their own talks, workshops, training and CPD. 

Which again, I think is brilliant, I’m all for diversifying, so hats off to you if you’ve done that.

BUT the impact of seeing so many interesting, exciting and worthwhile subjects now so easily available online as courses and workshops means it’s far easier to access. 

So rather than having to invest the time, money and effort to do an in person workshop or course, and there being so many more available to access so easily has put pressure on us.

  1. You might feel that you have to do them all, and go from one training to another to another in an endless treadmill of learning.
  2. You might feel if you don’t take that course or workshop, you will miss something vital, that missing link and therefore be letting your clients down. 

And it doesn't stop with online courses or workshops. 

Hands up if you have a veritable library of unread counselling books mocking you from your bookcase, reminding you that they've not been read yet? I know I have. I've got so many counselling books, well, in fact, all sorts of books waiting to be read. 

The problem with doing more CPD is:

1. There are always more courses

With so many theory bases, so many modalities, so many subjects - with all of them interesting and useful, you could literally be taking a new course every weekend for the rest of your life. And…

2. You can never know everything

It’s simply not possible. And not only that, you don’t have to! One of the most important things in all counselling modalities is the therapeutic relationship, and a squillion different courses won’t help with that. 

There are people out there that need you right now, with your current qualities and qualifications. 

3. Too much learning can be confusing

I find if I learn about too many different things to close together, it doesn't improve my understanding, it just makes me feel more confused. 

4. The importance of learning experientially

Not all learning is done in a training environment.

Much of what we learn can only come from the experience of being with a client, and it can take some time to assimilate that learning. Too much learning means you don’t get time to reflect on the topic you just learned and practice the skills. 

For example, we can only really understand the power of basic counselling skills by doing them.

When we witness and understand how being fully listened to impacts people, how reflecting things back to them brings clarity, how silence enables them to go deeper we realised that powerful, life changing work can be done with the skills and knowledge you currently have.

Why you should trust the process

So let’s look at this from the point of view of the clients. 

Back to my earlier example, a client comes presenting with anxiety and after working with them for a while, it transpires that they were bullied as a child. 

What does that client REALLY need?

I think this can be where we simply don’t give ourselves credit for the knowledge and skills already available to you. 

This might be the very first time that person has ever been properly listened to before. 

Never underestimate that.

How many times do people come to the second session reporting that they feel so much better already? That’s literally the power of the core conditions. Feeling listened to, respected, accepted.  

How many times are we told that it’s the client that does all the work? Maybe when someone has thanked you at the end of your work together you’ve swatted it away, insisting it wasn’t you, it was them. 

But it WAS you! You helped that person - not because you knew all the answers, but because you knew the right questions to ask to help them find their own answers.

What to do instead?

So if you’re stuck in a never ending quest for learning, stop for a moment and take stock:

  1. Count up how much CPD you’ve done this year so far
  2. Compare it with how much CPD you are required to do
  3. Be choosy about what CPD you choose to do.

Consider how it will help you in your practice eg choosing CPD to help with your niche is better than a more scattergun approach.

I actually had a guest expert John Wilson from Onlinevents on the podcast talking about this (and also delivered a workshop in the membership) so if you need some help with this, listen to Episode 19: How to use CPD for personal, professional and business growth, with guest John Wilson

And remember, if you are feeling compelled to do more and more training in order to attract more clients - well sadly it just doesn't work like that. 

Much of the CPD you do, if you list it on your website, the client won’t even understand what it is. In fact, I sometimes read the titles of CPD and wonder what it is myself, and I was a counsellor for 14 years! 

If you want more clients, spend time learning about how to attract clients. The Grow Your Private Practice membership is the perfect choice for you. At £35 a month and with training in all the subjects you need, and with a ton of support available there really isn’t any need to keep struggling on your own. 

So today we’ve explored:

  • How the drive to continuously take CPD has been exacerbated through the lockdown
  • The issues around this
  • And what to do instead.

Please don’t underestimate the power of the core conditions. And in the words of supervisors everywhere - always remember to trust the process. 

Because you are enough

What to do next

If you enjoyed this show, why not share it with your counselling peers.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your favourite app of choice to get automatic updates as soon as a show goes live.

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Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.