Fear of missing out. This one term has been driving our generation and so many generations before to run for stamps on ourselves, which provides some relevance to who and how capable we are. This method of trying to at least "feel" competent makes us ignore what really is valuable. If you ask practising professionals across the world, it is only true, tested, and applied skills learnt via experience and apprenticeship that make you capable of making a difference, without feeling like an imposter.
Certifications are for sure important, it helps the general masses understand your calibre, and set industry standards which people can refer to, but have you ever wondered what true value your certification provides you?
We encountered a major issue while on our two-year-long journey of trying to provide the best psychology education to the students of India, and that was the problem of dubious certifications.
We saw students not performing background checks on the organisations providing such courses.
We did it for them.
We saw such institutions charging hefty money from fellow education providers just for the stamp.
We fell prey to it too.
We saw multiple instructors with limited experience and dubious certifications themselves providing sub-par courses at extremely high prices.
We tried to solve it.
What did we understand?
1- Organisations that have nothing to do with mental health certifying MHPs, and Students alike because they were affiliated with a formal organising body, Government or Non-Government for some other cause.
2- Students being misled and asked to pay higher for the stamp of the same organisations, almost becoming a trend.
3- Organisations hiring inexperienced professionals from different field specializations to provide courses. Eg. A counselling psychologist providing courses on neuropsychology/forensic psychology/clinical psychology
4- Eventual creation of a culture that cares more about the certification than the level of knowledge and skill imparted.
The value of any organisation is determined by the quality of Individuals it is made up of, sadly, multiple startups and other organisations with a minimal workforce of experienced MHPs/Psychologists who only see the field as a cash cow seem to have emerged and dominated the field post lockdowns.
How will the students ever truly feel competent then?
The solution truly is simple to understand, but difficult to survive with, yet we like to take our chances, It is the field that we care for.
BSEQ-H is the model that we devised and believe in, after extensive interviews with professionals and student reviews. It follows Occam's Razor philosophy that we believe would be really helpful, for students, organisations, and MHPs alike when looking for such courses.
B- Background. Running a background check on the Instructor and the organisation. Limiting it to affiliations, standards maintained, track record, and accomplishments, along with the amount of transparency they come with.
S- Specialisation. We believe the more you are exposed to a field the more you understand its nuances, and it starts with having the right education. While psychology is as interdisciplinary as it gets, it is implied that having worked on research papers and cases that require the use of the concerned field also gives professionals a working understanding. A neuropsychologist who has never trained in Industrial/performance psychology can teach the course because they understand psychology and theories of motivation, but would not be as competent as a full-time Performance psychologist.
E- Experience. As mentioned earlier, the field, being as subjective as it is, with every new case demanding and generating new insight, makes the experience an asset of paramount value. Something we found a lack of while looking through the profiles of many instructors and startups. Funnily enough, we saw people with training in Business studies being trained by other people in business studies on "Emotional healing", because they had "personal experience with emotional distress", defeating all the previous parameters mentioned before.
Q- Quality. The quality of the educator here is limited to their efficiency as an instructor itself, in terms of their ability to handle a class, clear doubts, communicate well, and inspire within the students a love for the field.
H- The final aspect of our model goes beyond the instructor. While the instructor is the core aspect of the course, the design of the course itself is critical to student experience and growth. The difference between good courses and sub-par courses in our opinion was its capacity to allow the students to think for themselves, calling for capstone projects and practical experience. The aspect of interdisciplinarity that we mentioned earlier becomes important here. Psychology today follows the Biopsychosocial model as a paradigm, with multiple concepts from different fields overlapping to make sense of how we function. This, if applied in courses, adds to the richness of the field, and the creative horizons of the students.
If these standards are met, then we believe the course provides true value, rather than what a simple stamp would give you. The abundance of these stamps makes such courses all the less valid, furthermore, making it difficult to differentiate the good courses from the bad ones. A stamp does not truly tell you how good the course is, But we hope BSEQ-H would allow you to choose better.
We at socially souled have pledged to abide by BSEQ-H, and are making it public to create a real impact on the field. Let us know what you think.
Oh, and by the way, all the courses right now, have been developed keeping the same standards in mind.
To better education. To recognise talented educators. To advance the field. Cheers.