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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - Is It Really Necessary?

by Carole Preen(more info)

listed in clinical practice, originally published in issue 111 - May 2005

I hope like me, your initial reaction to this is yes and if you are reading Positive Health then you already know the value of reading literature and keeping yourself up-to-date. However, therapists do sometimes find it difficult to understand why they need to do around 15 hours a year to satisfy the requirements of their professional association; because they have already undertaken training and why do they need to learn anything more? This is very short-sighted from a business point of view because you cannot hope to be really successful if you are not furthering your skills and knowledge in the best interests of the patient and your profession. It is also about personal development; your own personal growth as well as that as a practitioner and I have recently started to think that Continuing Personal Development (CPD) would be a better title. After speaking to several smaller associations who have now implemented CPD policies, I was informed that renewals have gone down as a result. Therapists are – instead joining other bodies – offering cheap insurance with no CPD policies in order to avoid doing any! I decided to ask around and find out what the general view on this was:

I was told by quite a few people that some therapists only practise on family and friends. In that case, they are not really in practice and would not even require insurance if they are not charging for their services. Then I learned that some therapists only work one or two days a week or are struggling to attract clients. These therapists complain that as they do not earn much, they cannot afford to do any professional development. I find that statement to be quite extraordinary.

To work as a doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor (all regulated professions), you have to do Continuing Professional Development annually and complementary medicine should be no different. I understand that they are all employed, but through regulation of the therapies and integration of services, those well trained individuals who keep a portfolio of all their professional development, will find opportunities will open up to them in the future and in some cases, this is already happening. If you are one of those therapists struggling to get work, then you need to review your business plan and skills' base. Take some business training or receive some life coaching. You can contact your local borough council to find out about business links and where to get good advice and there are many books and free online courses that offer to help motivate and expand your business. To succeed in business does take initiative and determination, but these courses can often give you the lift you need to get back on track. Like any salesperson, you have to really believe in your product (yourself) in order to sell it and keep them coming back for more as well as being a highly skilled therapist, fully up-to-date with current thinking and research.

Not all CPD has to cost you a fortune. Reading is a good way of keeping yourself up-to-date and you can write a reflective practice essay to show how you have used that learning in your practice, how it benefited your patients, how you felt about the outcome, etc. An annual subscription to a professional magazine each year costs less than a £1 a week and you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own home! Remember that costs of books, magazines and courses are all TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

You cannot do all your CPD this way; however, you do need to attend at least one workshop, course, or lecture per year. Not only does this show your commitment to your clients and profession but also allows you to meet other therapists and share experiences. Practising from home, as many therapists do, can be a lonely existence and joining therapy support groups is a good idea. Contact the International Guild of Professional Practitioners IGPP ( or the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists IFPA (01455 637987) who offer these nationally, and welcome all. You do not need to be a member of that association to join in, but you may need to contribute a small fee each time you attend.

To find out about the CPD courses available you can contact associations such as those listed in this magazine as well as your professional association. For aromatherapy, you can click on the 'associations' page listed on the Aromatherapy Consortium website ( Workshops and lectures take place at exhibitions. CHEXPO ( is in June in Manchester and in October in London, offering free lectures and workshops to practitioners and give CPD certificates.

Portfolio Building

This is absolutely necessary in professional practice, especially as regulation comes into place. You should have a folder containing all the coursework you did for your original course. On top of this put in copies of your professional certificates, insurance details, memberships, a copy of your CV and an index page. Then every time you complete a reflective practice essay, or attend a therapy meeting, lecture, workshop or course, add a copy of the essay or attendance certificate and update the index and your CV. If you have not got any evidence, ask the lecturer to sign a receipt for you to prove you attended or design a CPD log book and ask them to fill in the details you need for evidence. You will then have this all on hand when you renew your professional membership each year and it will become second nature and stress free! This portfolio will also be useful if you attend an interview for a job in complementary medicine, as it is much more informative than a CV or copy of a certificate alone and of course will be useful should you wish to be APEL'd (Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning) for a university degree course in complementary medicine/ therapies.


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About Carole Preen

Carole Preen FCHP FANM HonMIFA is a Fellow of the Association of Natural Medicine and the former Aromatherapy & Allied Practitioners' Association and has been a practitioner since 1994 and an educator since 1997. She is also an honorary lifetime member of the International Federation of Aromatherapists awarded for her contribution to the profession. As well as specializing in Aromatherapy and Anatomy, Carole also introduced Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy to the UK. Carole is an specialist educator, and internal and external moderator working in both the private and FE sector and has level 4 qualifications in quality assurance. She is Director of Complementary Health Professionals and may be contacted on Tel: 0333 577 3340;
For further information about Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy (NSRT) please view the website at with links to published articles and a Facebook page. The diploma course is accredited by Complementary Health Professionals through Natural Therapeutics. Training details and information on booking a treatment with me is available via Mob: 07455 195 515

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