BECOMING AN IOPT PRACTITIONER
Becoming an IOPT practitioner is a serious business. To give you some idea of this I would remind you that a conventional psychotherapy training is usually around seven years of intensive training to arrive at a basic level of competence.
As an IOPT practitioner you would be working with people who are sometimes highly traumatised, and who often have extremely vulnerable psyches. This is a considerable responsibility, and requires you to be safe for them, and the only way in which you can achieve that is by dedicating yourself to several years of primary education, and deep personal exploration of your own traumas.
At the same time I do not want to discourage you. The more IOPT work is getting known, the more people are wanting to find practitioners. However, it can only work if all of us, current practitioners and student practitioners, require the highest standards of ourselves. Nothing less will do.
IOPT principles on topics of identity, trauma, autonomy and self-responsibility mean that we have to give up on our survival strategy of requiring another, typically more experienced person, to tell us that we are okay, and okay to practice (survival strategy of 'identification'). The truth of everything about you, including your ability as a potential practitioner, is not 'out there', it is within you as a human being and a student practitioner.
The normal procedure in the psychotherapy world is one where, after the seven years of training, an exam assessment happens, and those who are supposedly more experienced pass judgement on the examinee. My own experience of this at a highly reputable psychotherapy training institute in London in 1992 was extremely re-traumatising, and in my view, this procedure is highly suspect and completely against IOPT core principles and values.
Without this conventional assessment process, which, again I say, is contrary to basic IOPT principles and values, the burden of responsibility for when a person is ready to practice falls on the person themselves. As a novice practitioner you are the only person responsible for monitoring your competence to practice, not just at the beginning of your practising life, but throughout the time that you work as an IOPT practitioner. No one else can, or should, do this for you. This is something we all have to monitor in ourselves, with honesty and the commitment to truth and reality that is at the core of IOPT. The best way that we can do this is by making a true and life-long commitment to ourselves. The best practitioners are those who take themselves and their own traumas seriously, and continually work to become clearer in their own psyche.
What follows are some thoughts on designing your own education towards becoming an IOPT practitioner.
There are two primary principles of learning to become an IOPT practitioner. These are:
First: take every opportunity to do your own personal explorations.
The IOPT practitioner needs to have as clear a psyche as possible, and have a very good knowledge of your own survival strategies and potential to act as a perpetrator yourself. In fact I would say that this is the single most important thing you can do in order to become a competent, stable and reliable IOPT practitioner: do your own personal work.
Second: take responsibility for designing your own education and learning program.
There are two strands of learning: Theory and Practice
There are three avenues to learn these:
- Experience, through your own personal intention explorations, being a representative, observing other's work and observing other practitioners;
- Reading, whatever is available on IOPT theory, Franz's books, my books and any other books, articles etc. you can find;
- Discussion and Questioning: with those practitioners you see as having more experience than you, and with your peers.
Given this, I now think that the best way to learn to be an IOPT practitioner who truly adheres to IOPT theory, principles and values is the following:
- Design your own learning course and make the main focus of your learning your own personal work.
- Take your journey of learning seriously. You are intending putting yourself forward to work with people with extremely vulnerable psyches. This is a serious responsibility.
- A good and proper length of time to a minimal proficiency as a practitioner is about four years.
- It will probably be about ten years before you can say you are a good and competent practitioner.
- Attend as many IOPT 'education' courses as you can with a variety of practitioners and teachers.
- Read thoroughly all the available texts on IOPT and any other topic that appeals to you on your educative journey.
- Take every opportunity you can to discuss theory with others, those you see as more experienced than you, and your peers.
- Join or form a peer study group to support you in your journey;
- Think about the questions that you need answers to along the way, and how you can get them and from whom.
- Take every opportunity you can to be a representative in other's work, and to observe different practitioners in their work, and question them about their thinking.
- Take responsibility for deciding when you think you are fit to practice.
- When you start to work with people, ensure that you are in a peer support group that is at least at a similar level of competence to you.
- Take as many opportunities as you can to gain supervision/support and feedback from those you see as more experienced than you.
- The competent IOPT practitioner lives by the values and principles embedded in IOPT. Always try to live your life this way.
- Take responsibility for continuing your personal and professional learning, and never, ever think you know it all! There is always more to learn.
- Studentship never ends. The artificial moment of an 'accreditation' (if available) is exactly that, artificial. Better to consider yourself an IOPT student for the rest of your life.
I have two blogs that I wrote in 2015 on the topics of accreditation and legality as a practitioner (links below). They are out of date on IOPT, and perhaps on some other points, and they both relate specifically to the London training that I ran for many years, but much of these posts still holds true, and are still relevant to us as IOPT practitioners. The two blogs are entitled: