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Articles    H3'ed 6/11/10

Why do you need training to effectively incorporate psychophysiological assessments and biofeedback-based interventions

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Regardless of whether the course is given in a classroom or in a distance education setting, it should include extensive personal interaction with an instructor who is actually an expert in the field. Look for peer-reviewed publications by the instructor in the area in which the course is given. If you are considering a distance education course, be sure to find out if there is an actual instructor with appropriate credentials. Ask if extensive interaction with the instructor is an integral part of the course and if you can easily contact the instructor with questions. Also see if the instructor is prepared to provide extra material to meet your particular interests and needs. Get a clear idea of whether the course will offer audiovisual lectures or just a series of readings. Some distance education courses are still the old pamphlet based readings with multiple choice exams scored by a secretary without support from an actual instructor.

Look at the organization providing the course. Is the organization established and in good standing with the professional community? Most good CE groups will have program approval by state and national boards such as the American Psychological Association, California's Boards of Behavioral Sciences and Psychology, or the National Board of Certified Counselors. Colleges should have regional accreditation or, at the very least, state approval. Find out if the organization appears to be biased toward one viewpoint or product. You also need to ask if you can get CE credit for the course toward license renewal, etc.; if there are student, hardship, and/or developing nation scholarships; and if you can take only the parts of the course you need. Any biofeedback course you consider should be approved by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA which used to be called the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America). The BCIA sets criteria for the contents of each basic and technique specialty course (but not advanced courses) based on what panels of experts feel people utilizing a particular type of biofeedback need to know. They evaluate each course to ensure it provides the minimum material required in a usable format. Without BCIA approval, you can't know whether a course covers crucial material you need to know.

How do you decide which is best for you, in-person instruction or distance education? First consider how you learn best. If you aren't self-directed and able to sit down and do a distance course on your own, then it is not for you. If you like to have others around to bounce ideas off of and you like to have the instructor there with you, then, obviously, in-person classroom learning is the way to go. If you are sufficiently self-directed and like to be able to initially learn and then review the lectures and materials at your convenience, a distance course should work for you. A good distance education course includes audiovisual lectures, movies demonstrating equipment and techniques, and planned contact with the instructor. You should feel like to are taking an "in-person" class from your home or office.

Consider your economic circumstances. In-person courses can be a week long, and, unless one happens to be given in your town, they require travel expenses, meals, hotel, etc. If you are in private practice, you also give up your income for the week. If you live very far away from the course, and have an exchange rate problem, language barriers, etc., then a distance course would be recommended. Another point is that many distance education courses can be divided into segments, so you may only need to purchase and take the parts you need.

Please feel free to contact me with questions, etc. at rsherman@nwinet.com.

*This article is based on one I wrote for AAPB's web site.

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Richard A. Sherman received his doctorate in psychobiology from New York University in 1973. He has accrued over thirty-five years of experience teaching and performing research and clinical work in behavioral medicine and related fields. Dr. (more...)
 
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