One of the most common questions that I have been asked over the last couple of years, ever since we moved all our training programs online, is whether online training programs are as effective as offline training programs?
Coaching and Psychotherapy Certifications
This question becomes even more important in our case because the programs are focused on helping coaches and therapists develop advanced coaching competencies and therapeutic skills respectively. This means a major part of our programs (more than 70%) include intense demonstrations and extensive practice sessions.
On top of this, the processes that are covered in the course are based on Hypnosis, Mindfulness and NLP and the participants are not just going to experience these processes, they are required to learn and master these processes such that they can confidently and effectively use them with their clients. The psychotherapy diploma even includes processes that you can use with clients to help them even address deep intense emotional issues and trauma.
I am sure by now you are wondering whether I am speaking in favour of online training or against them?
Believe me, I had my scepticism
In fact a couple of years back I was in an intense discussion where I had vehemently opposed the idea that techniques from Hypnosis and NLP especially the ones that involve trauma work should not be taught online. I argued that the risks involved are too much given the unpredictability and instability of internet connection.
Fortunately for me, we have a team at ICHARS that likes challenging each other’s perceptions of what is possible and what isn’t.
So the team started working on a plan to see if I can be proved wrong and can they help me free myself from this limiting belief I had about what can type of training can be provided online.
I still remember a discussion between Misba, Mamta and Me, where we brainstormed on what training program can we conduct online in a way that we can maintain the quality of the program while still helping participants in their journey towards developing practitioner skills.
This discussion led to the launch of our short certification program on Relationship Counselling and Anxiety counselling.
We consciously chose to incorporate only techniques that we were absolutely sure could be taught and practised online. Given that each of us by now was already taking clients online, we had a real-time experience of what these techniques were.
We conducted these programs for a select group, took their feedback and only when the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we were confident that the program meets the high standards we have set, that we officially launched the same.
Over a period of time we also started working in our private consultations with clients who had intense emotional issues and recognized that with the right set of precautions, it was not just possible but also very effective to help clients via online sessions.
That is when we decided to transition our Level 1 of the premier Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching and Psychotherapy Diploma online. We began by conducting a trial workshop for our past students who had been a part of the offline training to understand whether they were as satisfied with the online version as they were with the offline once earlier.
To be true I was pleasantly surprised by both the effectiveness of the program and the positive feedback that we received from the participants. The fact that these participants had already been a part of our offline training meant that they were in a very good position to compare the effectiveness.
I was informed by the participants that the experience of working with partners in the breakout rooms was actually even more intense and effective than what they had during the offline sessions. The fact that there were no disturbances due to other people practising with each other, as is the case during offline training, meant that the experience was very similar to what they have when they work in their private practice.
Also practising online during the workshop meant that all our students were able to adapt to the needs of online coaching/therapy a lot more easily, which resulted in them being able to expand their practice as they were no longer limited to geographical restrictions. Many of them completely moved their practice online, thereby saving a substantial monthly expenditure on hiring clinic space.
As a part of the transition, we ensured that the program was structured in a step by step manner and that the instructions were even more chunked down. We also doubled the duration of Practice sessions in the online version of the training as compared to the offline ones. As a result, the participants were a lot more confident of their abilities to start working with clients immediately after level 1 itself.
And this is where we realized that we can now officially announce the online version of Level 1 and start taking paid registrations.
We followed the above process for each level, added more content to pre-course modules so that more and more time can be dedicated to practice sessions and demonstrations.
So to answer the question
I can not speak for other training programs because I don’t know what process did they follow as a part of their transition but I can say confidently that over the last 3 years we have effectively transitioned all our courses including the ones where we cover intense trauma work.
The team at ICHARS, systematically through both smart and hard work, have helped me recognize that I was wrong that online training programs, as long as they are designed with proper care and diligence and include live interactions, demonstrations and practice sessions, can be as effective and maybe even more effective than offline programs.
Changes we had to make
Having said this, there were changes that we had to make to sustain and enhance the quality of programs during and after the transition. These changes include:
- Additional concepts were added to the pre-course online modules to ensure that we were focusing mostly on demonstrations and practice sessions during the live training.
- Making pre-course modules mandatory. This means we refused participants’ entry into the live course till they completed the pre-study modules. The participants were requested to join the next course in case the pre-course modules were not complete.
- Making attendance compulsory during the instructor-led sessions. Every participant needs to be available for the complete duration of the program. Though to be true, the programs have been so interactive, engaging and fun that all participants, unless there was an emergency, have been happy to be a part of the complete workshop. At the end of each workshop, we receive feedback from participants that they just didn’t realise how quickly the time went by.
- We also made repeating the same course one more time completely free. This means you pay once but you can attend twice and if you wish to attend the third or the fourth… time, you only have to pay a nominal 500 per day for the program.
- Increased the level of post-workshop support by introducing weekly Q&A and case discussion sessions with participants. You can read more about what is included in the post-workshop support here.
- Added a 100% money-back guarantee for the course to protect participants in case they were not happy with the workshop. If I am not wrong, ICHARS is the only institute that offers a guarantee of this nature for instructor-led live practitioners courses. You can read more about this guarantee and why we introduced the same for our courses, here.
Additional things to keep in mind
The following are additional things that we ask our participants to ensure before they join the live training, to make the most of the program:
- Attend courses using a laptop or a desktop with a minimum 12-inch screen
- Connect to a high-speed internet connection and be in a good network area so that the phone internet can act as a backup just in case required.
- Complete the pre-course modules. They are mandatory and you will not be allowed entry into the course if the modules have not been completed.
If you are a psychologist looking at developing advanced therapeutic skills, you would love our Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy Diploma and if a coach or exploring a career as a coach, you would appreciate the step-by-step processes we cover in Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching Diploma