We all know that we need to engage in continued professional development as qualified/ registered practitioners, but what is sometimes slightly less well articulated is exactly what this CPD should be. Should we be looking to develop our skills, or knowledge or both?
There are lots of options when it comes to CPD. These range from professional workshops, to conferences, to corporate courses. So what is best? Well all the different options have their merits, and I suppose the answer has got to be a combination of all of the options.
Conferences, for example, can be a great way to network and keep up-to-date with research and applied practice in the sector. However, it is always important to remember that a conference is only as good as it’s programme. Also, conferences can be limited by the degree to which presenters live up to the promise of their presentation titles. Over the years there have been a number of sessions at conferences that I have attended that have promised much for an applied practitioner but ended up just being a discussion of methodology and sample size. With conferences cost is always a consideration but I do think, where possible, attending one of the sport & exercise psychology specific events such as the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) annual conference, the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) four-year conference, or the International Society of Sport Psychology four-year conference is a must.
In most countries now a comprehensive series or workshops are run by sport & exercise psychology/psychology organisations (e.g. British Psychological Society in the UK). In Europe FEPSAC on their website (http://www.fepsac.com) do a good job at advertising CPD events across the continent. Recently AASP has even started to deliver online seminars called ‘webinars’ to interested parties that are another way to engage in CPD events without the cost of travel and accommodation.
Some sports governing bodies will run their own sport-specific events that might take the form of a workshop or symposium where interested parties from the same sport can get together and share information, ideas and experiences.
While all of these ‘formal’ CPD activities count they can sometimes be less useful than the more informal discussions that take place on a regular basis between colleagues within the profession. I must admit I love the opportunity to sit down with fellow practitioners out there and share experiences, ideas and where possible contacts. You don’t get the CPD credits for it but I think it definitely helps our development.
Finally you can look outside of the discipline for CPD. Depending on your specific focus of interest or current roles this might focus on training for commercially available psychometrics (such as MBTi, or Insights), or further counselling courses (e.g. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – CBT, or Mindfulness).
Indeed, if you had the budget you could easily fill most of your time undertaking different courses and CPD activities. So, the trick is that you need to be selective, and make sure you invest your time and money wisely.