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Dr. Bruce Wampold Outlines 3 Methods for Psychotherapists to Continuously Improveby Bruce Wampold on July 5, 2017 Last updated on September 01, 2020
How time flies. I have been researching, practicing and supervising psychotherapy for over 35 years. When I began graduate school Hans Eysenck’s claims that psychotherapy was not effective, and likely harmful, was widely disseminated and believed. To say the least, it was not an optimistic time to be in training to become a psychologist.Read more
How to Use Skillsetter for Treatment-specific Classes & Workshops
Your guide to fully-leveraging Skillsetter while teaching specific treatment skills in counseling and therapyby Bruce Wampold on May 10, 2021
Skillsetter is an education software designed to produce more effective psychotherapists. It has applications across various classes including treatment-specific classes or workshops (described here), basic skills classes, and supervision.
Therapy trainees and practicing clinicians often participate in classes and workshops to learn specific therapy approaches. In these classes/workshops the participants learn two types of skills:
1) Therapy-specific skills: Each therapeutic approach contains particular ingredients specific to that treatment. For example:
- CBT: psychoeducation, Socratic dialogue, challenging dysfunctional thinking, explaining homework.
- Focused psychodynamic therapy: challenging defenses, eliciting avoided affect, interpreting transference.
- Emotion focused therapy: chair work, deepening emotion.
2) Relational skills: Skills adapted for the particular approach. For example:
- Alliance-building skills: focus on goals and tasks versus focus on bond.
- Alliance rupture repair: change tasks or work in the here-and-now relationship.
- Creating positive expectations
There are many advantages when using Skillsetter in therapy-specific classes or workshops:
- Participants are able to practice the skills on their own outside of the class or workshop.
- Skillsetter is easily integrated into existing classes and workshops.
- Instructors are able to directly assess the skill level of the participants to determine whether they are acquiring the skills required for the particular approach.
- Skillsetter is entirely remote, so participants can practice on their own and instructors can assess participant skill levels when desired.
Integrating Skillsetter in a Treatment-specific Class/Workshop
Often participants are excited to learn a particular therapeutic approach but have limited opportunity to practice the particular skills necessary for the treatment to be delivered effectively. With Skillsetter, participants watch a video stimulus, practice a response (which is recorded), then evaluate the response based on a rubric developed for the particular skill in question. Participants then repeat and refine their response, after which they submit the response for feedback.
In this blog, the steps involved in using Skillsetter in a therapy-specific context will be discussed. Of course, these are suggestions and instructors have been innovative in how they use Skillsetter in various classes and workshops.
Step 1—Adapt Skillsetter to the Existing Class or Workshop
Skillsetter is organized around modules, where the modules contain the components of deliberate practice of a particular skill, including client stimulus videos, a rubric for the evaluation of participant responses, model responses, and notes from the instructor, among other features. The instructor can design the modules to fit their particular class or workshop, so that the participants receive an instructor-designed experience that is congruent with the goals of the class or workshop.
Step 2—Assign Modules
The instructor can choose the stimulus videos for participants to practice, the number of videos to be used, and to whom the modules should be submitted to for feedback (participants can submit their videos to small groups of other participants or to the instructor). Remember, participants are not allowed to submit their responses for feedback until they have practiced the skill repetitively and evaluated their response as meeting basic criteria for competence (i.e. the student repeats their response for each client stimulus, working to improve until the desired level of competence is achieved, based on guided, self-evaluation).
Step 3—Provide Feedback
A crucial step in using Skillsetter for treatment-specific classes/workshops involves providing feedback to participants. The instructor (or the peers) watches the stimulus video and the participant response, and then the instructor (or peers) evaluate(s) the response, using the module rubric. The instructor also provides written feedback for each component of the module.
Step 4—Assess Progress
The instructor can also use Skillsetter to monitor progress over the course of the class or workshop. This ensures that the pace of instruction matches the participant’s skill acquisition.
Skillsetter is designed to assist in therapy skill acquisition by using deliberate practice. Skillsetter is designed to contain instructor-designed modules that match the skills needed to deliver the treatment effectively. Remember, the instructor can consult with Skillsetter staff to answer questions, get pointers, or request advice. Because we are a small enterprise, we can make modifications in the platform to fit instructors’ needs.