Registered psychologists have to keep a record of their professional development during the year. It demonstrates their commitment to ongoing learning and development.
The truth is, whether or not they record it, most psychologists are engaging in ongoing professional development. We talk with our peers on challenging cases or situations. We read. We attend workshops and seminars on new research or clinical models. We constantly have an ear out to catch news or reports of new findings in psychology or related disciplines. Our training and our discipline instils in us a love of learning and personal growth.
When it comes to recording all of that however, we find it a bit onerous. We appreciate the need for such records but keeping them doesn’t typically qualify as the most enjoyable aspect of our work.
Thus, when I sat down this morning to pull my records together for the year, I did so with the motivation of a small child who has been asked to clean up their room.
Having just finished compiling my records for the year however, I am actually feeling quite differently about it.
I took a different approach this year. Rather than treat my professional development record like a spreadsheet with discrete and bland entries, I tried to treat it instead like telling the story of my year.
I started by capturing the main activities of the year. Dates, times, that kinda thing.
I then wrote about each of those activities as though I were telling someone who knew nothing about psychology or nothing about professional development requirements. I wrote about what it was like to experience those events and what I think I learned from them.
The typical approach to the CPD record is to treat it like a dispassionate intake of information. “I went to this workshop and I learned the following things: a,b,c etc.” But that doesn’t strike me as the interesting part. How did the workshop make you feel? Did you experience any dramatic shifts in perspective? What are the 1 or 2 things that you really think you’ll actually take into your own practice?
Now reflecting on my year might have been made easier by the fact that I was very fortunate this year to get to do a whole lotta cool stuff (7 Days of Psychology, Visualising Mental Health, https://cpdworkbook.com/, my personal website), but I felt the big difference from previous years’ records was my attitude towards the record. I wanted it to read like a story of the past 12 months of my life. I wanted someone reading it to get a real sense of how the year changed me as a person and whether those changes matched what I hoped for at the beginning.
The result is a document resembling a journal entry, rather than a formal record. It reads like someone trying to work out what they learned from the past year. It is more engaging to read and I suspect more detailed in capturing what I’ve learned. I even included in the document details of activities that didn’t count towards my CPD hours but did play a significant part of my development that year. For me, this year, that was my use of Twitter as a communication platform.
As we approach the end of the year, would you find it helpful to set aside some time and write your 2019 story? If you had a great year, it might be an opportunity to celebrate the wins. If you had a shit year, it might be an opportunity to process the losses. Regardless, I suspect you’ll find far more nuance in the year than you expected, and that writing about it will help you internalise the lessons that 2019 has been trying to teach you.
Start by using your diary or calendar to recall significant events.
Then recall what it was like to live those events. Try to describe that as best as possible.
Do this for all the main events. You don’t need to do it in a single setting.
Finish with a summary for the year contrasting what you expected to happen and what actually did happen.
Include in that summary the implications for 2020. Let your brain form some preliminary 2020 goals.