PERSONAL STATEMENT-Rita Younan- Running for Training coordinator
I have had the privilege of serving a first term as the Training Co-ordinator for the ISST. In that time, I have closely worked with the board across a wide range of tasks. These have included efforts to streamline, fast-track, and align schema therapy certification and training requirements across many countries that differ in psychotherapy training standards. Another import set of tasks has centred around reducing the costs of training for schema therapists and enhancing the accessibility and reach of training opportunities for ISST members undertaking professional learning and certification across the world. These tasks have largely focused on developing policies and leveraging online technologies and learning platforms to ensure our members could continue their professional development requirements during the unforeseen challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further details regarding my achievements as ISST Training Co-ordinator over the last two years can be found in my submitted GMA report.
Despite the achievements to date, there is more to be done. Below, I outline five key tasks that I will focus on if afforded the opportunity to serve another term as the ISST Training Coordinator.
The five tasks I outline below reflect my philosophy that the training of ISST members needs to focus on: (1) strengthening the nexus between science and practice; (2) creating meaningful professional development and networking opportunities that creates an international community of connected therapists that can enhance each other’s training and practice; and (3) streamlining and improving accessibility to professional development resources and certification requirements.
Task 1: Planning and delivery of the 2023 Enlight conference (Melbourne, Australia) and the 2024 Inspire conference (Washington, USA)
In my role as ISST Training Coordinator to date, I have worked with the ISST board and conference organizers to successfully deliver on the 2021 and 2022 international conferences. The training coordinator plays a significant role in the organisation and delivery of conferences by ensuring that the nature and format of the conference program provides the necessary depth and diversity to meet the professional development and training needs of ISST members. Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, myself and organisers worked to provide high quality conference experiences in the virtual environment – a pivot that required significant re-development of how to host and create meaningful online conference experiences. During my tenure, I have made a conscious decision to develop clear guidelines for the ISST to consistently offer conferences that are of a hybrid nature. The skills and experience in conference organising developed over the last two years, provides me with the necessary expertise to ensure the smooth planning and delivery of the upcoming 2023 Enlight Conference in Melbourne and the 2024 Inspire Conference in Washington. Indeed, the 2023 conference website is already live, and I have already commenced the initial planning for the 2024 conference. In addition to the development and planning of these two conferences, if elected, I will work on developing formal documentation and guides regarding conference development, planning and management so that conferences are executed with ease and of a consistently high nature in the future.
Task 2: The implementation of an ISST research agenda to strengthen the science and practice of schema therapy
During the last two years, I have worked closely with the current Science and Research Coordinator to identify and increase opportunities to advance schema therapy research through our society. An important step in this process was to identify strategic research priorities within the field of schema therapy. I facilitated this process by enlisting the opinions of the ISST board, Jeffry Young, and collaborating with Pam Pilkington and Gery Karantzas to execute a Delphi Study that surveyed ISST members and the schema therapy community at large as to research areas that most need attention. This study will now inform the research priority areas that will be outlined by the ISST going forward and form the basis of ISST’s research agenda. This research will have important future benefits for the training of schema therapists by drawing on state-of-the-art knowledge to inform training and certification. To provide a pathway for the ISST to support research, I have successfully secured a biannual research budget that (in consultation with the ISST board), will result in the development of a competitive and commissioned research grants program. If elected, I will work with the board to formally develop policies and procedures regarding how grants are issued and administered. The main goal around these task-based activities is to ensure that Schema Therapy continues to gain empirical traction as an evidence-based therapy with good clinical outcomes.
Task 3: Improving training and certification for schema therapists
If elected, I will continue to work closely with the Training and Advisory Committee and the certification coordinator to improve training practices and certifications standards (especially across countries with different training and licencing issues) for all schema therapy specialities. The undertaking of this task is one that needs to be carried out in a manner that ISST members feel supportive in their learning and skill enhancement rather than feeling discouraged and perceiving training and certification as an administrative process characterised by “red tape”. In attending to this task, I will continue to work towards streamlining processes and harmonising certification across countries and specialisations.
Task 4: Streamlining procedures and formalising processes
Developing quick and easy reference to policies, procedures, and guides for the effective execution of professional development and training activities is an important goal moving forward for the ISST. Such documentation is critical to ensure smooth board member transition and the achievement of key performance indicators as part of the ISST’s operational plan. For example, having a conference “orientation and coordination” manual developed and finalised for future training coordinators, board members, and event committee coordinators is an important resource that I have been developing. This manual includes guidelines for the development of a conference budget, best practice in securing an event location as well as procedures on how to put together a conference schedule and the key personnel involved in the organisation of such training events. Other examples of work I have made significant progress on is the development of communication methods and channels amongst committee chairs, board members, and other voluntary positions through the creation of formal ISST email accounts, and the warehousing of documents regarding organisation governance, board and committee roles and responsibilities within shared secure folders. These tasks effectively increase communication efficiency and the ability for the ISST board to more quickly access important documentation to fast track planning and decision-making that directly addresses the needs of members.
Task 5: Improving the ISST website
I have been working closely with the Media Coordinator to improve the ISST website and how our members utilise the website to store schema-related information regarding their membership. This includes things such as how best to record continuing education requirements, the advertising of training opportunity, and the storing of certification documentation. Unfortunately, the website that was due to be launched this year, has been delayed due to problems with the developers. I want to ensure that all the hard work that has been done to address members accessibility and recording of schema-related information has been developed and will be delivered as soon as possible by the new web developers. Having a better working website is imperative for communication around changes in training, certification and attracting new members to our society- as it is the “first impression” for those initially exploring training and research into Schema Therapy. Therefore, I will continue my steadfast commitment to this task if elected for another term.
In closing, it is my hope that you feel that I can champion for the needs of ISST members and contribute to the society in a manner that further strengthens the mission the ISST. I would indeed be honoured to serve another term as the Training Coordinator.
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