Methods of teaching

The choice between lecture, seminar, workshop, or experiential teaching will vary, depending on the size of the group and the task of the teaching.

Tips for didactic teaching

Things to find out about the audience before the teaching session

  • • The services they are working in
  • • Their roles
  • • Their professional backgrounds
  • • Their level of experience of psychotherapeutic concepts
  • • Their preoccupations relating to their field of work
  • • Ascertain typical questions they may want to be addressed.

To keep the audience engaged

  • • If possible, ask everyone to introduce himself or herself and say which service they work in and their role.
  • • check understanding with the group regularly, asking questions and allowing space for questions.
  • • Use case examples relevant to the group.
  • • Do not use too much text in powerpoints or other visual material.
  • • Use as many pictures and diagrams as possible.
  • • Avoid using language specific to your own psychotherapy discipline.
  • • Get feedback afterwards verbally and formally on a feedback form.

Tips for experiential teaching

In this method, participants are encouraged to bring their own material for reflection by the group and facilitator. This can be in a workshop on a topic such as self-harm, in a less structured case discussion, or in a more structured Balint group format. The common theme in teaching in these situations is primarily in aiming for truthful emotional reflection, secondarily formulation and, in varying degrees, as this is a different task, on management of the patient.

Methods of running a case discussion or Balint group

(See E Balint groups in Chapter 10, pp. 484-96; Reflective practice

groups in Chapter 10, pp. 497-505.)

  • • Group frequency: series of sessions at regular intervals (most often weekly).
  • • Group size: the participant group size should not exceed 12 at any one time. Often there is a larger membership of the group but, due to the work commitments or leave plans, different participants attend on different weeks.
  • • Group leaders or facilitators: one or two; Balint co-leaders often include a member of the profession represented in the group.
  • • presenter: there are different ways of nominating the presenter, depending on the enthusiasm and confidence of the group:
  • • At the start, the facilitator can open up the group by asking,

‘Who’s on your mind?’ and wait for a participant to come forward with some material

  • • At the end of each group session, someone can volunteer, or be nominated, to present at the next group session
  • • The facilitator can ask for anyone who would like to discuss a case to let them know in the week before the next session
  • • A rota can be organized, so that everyone gets an opportunity to present.
  • • Preparation by the presenter: in general, some preparation is needed—this may range from thinking beforehand to more formalized notes (although notes are usually discouraged in Balint groups).
  • • Time: use a clear time boundary (generally 60 minutes).
  • • Discuss no more than two cases in any one session. In some groups, time is given for feedback on cases from previous weeks.
  • • Group leadership/facilitation: there are two main approaches:
  • • The presenter talks about the case with little interruption. The facilitator then asks the group to respond to what they have heard. The group ends with a general discussion and reflection.
  • • Goldfish bowl method: the presenter presents, and then the facilitator asks if there are any simple factual questions that need clarification, limiting this to two or three. He/she then asks

the presenter to either literally or metaphorically ‘push their chair back’ and remain silent for the next 15 to 20 minutes. The presenter is then asked to rejoin the group, about 10 minutes before the end, and given an opportunity to offer their reflections on the discussion they have heard.

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