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Pioneering Counselling CPD shortlisted for THE award 2021

THE Awards shortlisted entry 2021

The most successful OU CPD course ever - ‘How to do online therapy: A coronavirus primer’ - created by Psychology & Counselling academics Professor Naomi Moller and Dr Andreas Vossler has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award 2021.

Shortlisted in the category ‘Knowledge Exchange / Transfer Initiative of the Year’, alongside entries from the University of Glasgow, LSE, Aberystwyth and Edinburgh Napier, our submission highlights the reach and potential impact of the course which, to-date, boasts over 22K enrolled participants, with over 13k badges of completion awarded.

Back in March 2020, when the UK Government first announced restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, face-to-face therapy became impossible, threatening the continued support for people with mental health needs at a time when pandemic-induced stress, anxiety and trauma were soaring in the UK.

Professor Naomi Moller and Dr Andreas Vossler worked with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) to develop ‘How to do online therapy: A coronavirus primer' an open-access CPD online course designed to educate and support practitioners, most of whom had no prior training experience in online therapy.

Head of the School of Psychology & Counselling, Dr Jean McAvoy, says: “I am delighted to see the work of colleagues Prof Moller and Dr Vossler from the School of Psychology & Counselling recognised in this way.

“In a time of urgent need, Naomi and Andreas created a vital resource to support not only the many thousands of mental health practitioners who needed to move their practice online, but, of course, also the many thousands of clients who were then able to continue to access vital therapeutic support. It is hard to overstate the number of lives benefitting directly from this amazing resource.”

Developed in only 11 days in April 2020, this pioneering CPD was produced to fill an urgent and critical need, offering counsellors and psychotherapists a primer to boost their knowledge and confidence in offering technology-based counselling safely and effectively, supporting services to continue to support people with mental health needs during the pandemic.

The course content was agreed between the OU academics and the BACP and produced by the OU’s OpenLearn team for the OpenLearn Create platform. With pedagogically innovative design and high-quality material, the course offers interactive and engaging instruction at the learners’ own pace.

Professor Naomi Moller and Dr Andreas Vossler say: “We are hugely pleased to have been nominated for the THE Knowledge Exchange Award. We are the course authors but the CPD could not have been launched without contributions from many other people.

“In particular we want to thank the School who arranged FASS funding for the course, and the sustained encouragement offered by School head Dr Jean McAvoy; the LDS team in OpenLearn Create, led by Caroline Steggles, who rushed production through in just a few days; and colleagues at the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy who helped us build the course, in particular Fiona Ballentine-Dykes, Chief Professional Standards Officer and Deputy CEO.

“Thank you all for allowing us to capitalize on the unique capacity of the OU to create high quality digital learning materials to create this urgently needed CPD course.”

Feedback from practitioners and service leaders evidences the transformative contribution made by the course, showing how the 6-hour learning resource helped practitioners become aware of the specific risks and technology implications of working remotely, and provided them with the relevant knowledge to safely provide evidence-based therapy online.

The course supported partner organisation and professional society BACP to support its 55,000 members, cementing its position as a thought leader in the profession during the pandemic. It offered critical learning opportunities for members to engage with significant ethical concerns, such as how to both evaluate and foster therapeutic competence in online working for those trained only as in-room counsellors.

The results demonstrate the impact of the OU’s online learning, highlighting the transformative potential to provide rapid and agile support for a broad range of societal needs. Inspired by this success, the OU is currently developing a suite of CPD, to offer quality, research-informed online self-directed learning to help mental health professionals cope with the sudden increase in trauma and mental health issues as a result of the pandemic.

Find out more about our research on School website

Find out more of this CPD course with OpenLearn

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