The Revolution & Evolution of

Online Training for Counsellors

Have you ever wondered where Online Training for Counsellors courses come from? We sing their praises and also the praises of the thousands of professionals have added OLT4c training to their skill set, but why?

It feels like this former student said it all…       

I thoroughly recommend it. I’m very experienced in the online world, I thought, every week was huge learning. Fabulous!  The extra awareness and skill to move into effective therapeutic relationship possibilities is awesome.

The principle and ethos of OLT is consistently communicated through our carefully selected knowledgeable, warm and supportive nature of our CPCAB approved tutors.

How did this ethos develop? We have to go back to the turn of the century and the trailblazers who were dedicated to doing what was inconceivable, establishing a warm, empathic therapeutic relationship online

Tentative Beginnings

Online Training for Counsellors was founded by Angela Burian who was a strong advocate for e-counselling. Angela’s vision was shared with Alex Chew, Gill Jones, and Jane Hallet. In 2000 they established a model and set up OLT Ltd. 2000

At that time, there was no Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams to contend with, AOL AIM was the order of the day with its choice of fonts and colours. Despite the lack of broadband, email text sessions were carried out and to great effect, winning over self-confessed Luddite, Anne Stokes.

Anne was Gills’ original online partner and they continue their relationship to this day. Gill volunteered to write the General Certificate in Online Counselling Skills and together with Anne CPCAB was approached for course validation and accreditation.

The first official course was launched in 2001 and then, as now, students attended from all over the world. This makes for some interesting meeting times as time zones are considered and where possible accommodated for the 3 live sessions which are positioned throughout the course.

The ease of misunderstanding through the written word became noticeable and an early computer virus highlighted the online model required more than just “how-to” but additionally understanding of why. An Advanced Certificate was developed by Gill putting to good use her experience of working alongside other trainers who lived and worked in different cultures. Using whiteboards and audio real clients were counselled but dial-up brought its issues for working remotely. The sound quality was poor and a jerky conversation was all that could take place. The impact on the rest of the family when the only phone line to the home was used can’t be discounted.

Sadly Angela died in early 2003 however the remaining group in their enthusiasm did much to address the technical difficulties of delivering training online. Many early students were new to the internet who struggled with downloading a program or visiting a password-protected website. This feeling is familiar to many now thrown into counselling online by a coronavirus. Then, as now, the value of having a written record of a session whether learning or counselling doesn’t lessen. Video doesn’t allow for that however during teaching and learning sessions we encourage a volunteer to share a summary of the session in its absence.

Continuing the Online Focus

In 2020 our loyalty and gratitude to Online Training for Counsellors and their early beginnings hasn’t diminished. Jane Hallett, Gill Jones and Anne Stokes continue to be valued members of our OLT family

Meeting the recent thirst for learning about ethical online practice has meant that spaces on many of our professional courses such as the General Certificate in Online Counselling have filled very quickly. To meet demand additional courses have been laid on. The Diploma in Online Counselling and the Diploma in Online Therapeutic Supervision are also experiencing a sharp rise in applications.

Our newer workshops emphasise reflective self-study with background support if required. They offer valuable CPD and/or preparation for our more advanced training. Students consider how to manage their time, complete exercises, and address dilemmas. There are no multiple choice answers but questions deliberately set to challenge expectations. They rely on the enthusiasm of the student to do additional research and identify where further learning is needed. Many go on to choose the pathway of the Diploma in Online Counselling for a broader and deeper experience. The Introduction to E-Counselling Skills benefits from personalised tutor feedback. Highlighting points answered well, and the direction to follow for further study.

What’s Next for Online Training for Counsellors?

Our professional courses continue to be sought after. The structure of each week, experiential learning and the network of lasting supportive relationships add immeasurable value. Tutor/student relationships morph into collegial, professional and respectful relationships with peer groups lasting long after the training has ended.

We find charities prefer a blend of self-study and tutor-led training for their counselling teams. They already have the benefit of networks and support. Everyone is short on time whether they are fully immersed in the online world or it is an additional layer of chosen responsibility to a separate field of employment or homelife. Before our lives were turned upside down by the coronavirus the OLT team were new and exciting courses in the field of online study, we are currently focusing on the skills practice elements of these new courses. Watch this space!

In addition to our long term relationship with CPCAB we have established the same with the National Counselling Society and collaborate up and down the UK with other organisations to ensure you get the training you deserve. We continue to be interested in how we can best meet the needs of the therapeutic community so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Online therapy is so much more than sending a link to a client.

The symphony of online counselling

Learning to read the notes before feeling the rhythm and playing the melody

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