Developing enabling environments in practitioner training

Whitehead, Graham (2015) Developing enabling environments in practitioner training. Asia Pacific Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 6 (1-2). pp. 80-88. ISSN 2150-7686


In response to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on effective and ethical disability provision, training providers need to consider more widely how to deliver psychological training which is sensitive to the needs of service users who have a disability. Johnson and Haigh discuss the use of the term ‘enabling environments’ which usefully summarizes the challenge facing the profession with regard to practitioner training. Counselling and Psychotherapy education, by its very nature, requires training providers to demonstrate a commitment to accessibility and social inclusion for people with disabilities. By modelling examples of good practice, training providers can affirm and promote competence in professional practice which consequently impacts standards of psychotherapeutic care for this population. The creation and promotion of an enabling environment in practitioner training is achieved in a number of ways: affirming basic principles of social inclusion, modelling policies and procedures which shape the training environment, demonstrating evidence of professional practice in the disability arena and the assessment of practitioner competence to practice in a transcultural environment. Standards of ethical practice in this field warrant a clear statement and focus by training providers and a move towards the achievement of empathic resonance in practitioner training is suggested. This can be effectively demonstrated only where institutional policies and procedures are established to reflect the professional standards of the profession. The article includes several vignettes which aim to highlight consideration of the creation of an enabling environment in psychological training provision.

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