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Recognising prior learning in psychotherapy training:

A critical appraisal

Author - Aine O’Reilly


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The purpose of this account is to reflect critically on the process and meaning of RPL and to highlight some of the theoretical, ethical and professional questioning that RPL raises. In doing so – as is so often the case with critical reflections – wider institutional and organisational stances come within the interrogation net. The CWI project of seeking academic accreditation for its training, and indeed the wider psychotherapeutic project of seeking statutory recognition for the profession, are presented as problematic. This is not to suggest that these tasks should not be pursued; but it does mean that those who are involved in developing policies and procedures have a responsibility to include a critical reflexive approach as well as a constructive formative approach.

Psychotherapy and academia do not always fit easily together. This disparity of positioning and conceptualisation creates considerable potential for polarisation of the psychotherapeutic and the academic. However the connection between academia and psychotherapy also contains considerable possibilities. A dialogical space between the psychotherapeutic and academic can create the potential for new, different thinking and postionings to emerge. From a critical perspective this questioning is not confined to the therapeutic or the academic spheres; instead these are common questionings to all of us who inhabit a critical space. What are the practical consequences of the educational theories we inhabit in psychotherapy and academia? What are the theoretical stakes in such practice in the real world? What connections between the psychotherapeutic and the academic might be forged to understand and change how we provide training and education? How are attempts to connect theory and practice played out at local level in our current training programmes? These are questions that concern us all; and in dialogue we have, I think, more possibilities of constructing answers that are useful to our consumers than separately or apart.

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