Philosophy of Training

In the current, fast-growing landscape of counselling, coaching and psychotherapy, training options and opportunities land daily in my in-box. Most usually I get a good idea of the learning that is offered and what I will gain from that. What I don’t get is information about the training approach and philosophy of the course leaders, which, I have come to realise is incredibly important.


I believe that we all have, at the core of us, a kernel, which holds great positive power and potential. Ongoing learning can free and/or increase this power and enable it to radiate and ripple out into the fabric of our lives.


When we go into learning as adults, we bring with us a vast amount of prior learning, which is a landscape into which we can then place subsequent learning. This needs to be accounted, valued and welcomed.


Positive learning experiences can be literally life-changing in a range of positive ways, and we can also experience deep psychological wounds, that become self-limiting, as a result of negative learning experiences.


Neuroscientists have now explained why this is true. It turns out that positive emotions during learning trigger the release of neurotransmitters which aid in information processing, while negative emotions also trigger the release of neurotransmitters but those that block new learning (e.g. fight or flight reactions) Knowles et al (2015:222)



Words that come to me, that capture my approach as a trainer are –  open, curious, lively, alert, joyful, accepting, stimulating, interested. A key aim for me as a trainer is for people who learn with me to have positive experiences of self and self with others, and to finds ways to find, express and use imagination and creativity in the learning process.


As a trainer, I see an important part of my role as providing experiences for training participants to explore their own values, meanings, and choices. To support this approach I maintain a learning environment where participants feel encouraged to express themselves through discussion, creative projects, and choice of study areas.





“A mind is like a parachute it doesn’t work unless it is open”

Thomas Dewar





Questions to ask yourself (and that I am interested in!) ahead of our training

  1. How valuable an experience do you plan this to be?
  2. How engaged and active do you plan to be?
  3. How much are you up for a positive challenge?
  4. How interested are you in the quality of the experience of others?
  5. What might you need in order to shift on the scale?



Pam Levin (1982) created a model called Cycles of Development, which identifies seven stages in human development, which we replay and revisit throughout our lives. This model is very useful, when linked to the learning process, as it helps us to identify the tasks that we may not have fully completed, and which we may need to attend to, and therefore complete, in our ongoing learning process.




Images can be wonderful aids to learning. What part of this picture do you most identify with as a learner? Are you a vast ocean waiting to be explored… are you a ship, carrying a wealth of treasure….are you a bird, flying around and looking out for something that takes your eye….



Training needs to be a shared experience that includes challenge and fun!