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Certification Coordinator’s report to the ISST General Membership Assembly 2018-2020

by Paul Kasyanik

Working together with the Training Coordinator

My second term on the ISST Executive Board was in the position of Certification Coordinator during 2018 to 2020 (2016 to 2018 as Science Coordinator).  Dividing the position of the Training/Certification Coordinator into two was required by the huge growth in the number of members’ applications, questions and requests regarding certification, multiple training programs inquiries and applications and the urgent need to develop new policies due to the growth and expansion of ISST and then the COVID 19 crisis and move to online training.  I worked closely with Jeff Conway, who served in the role of Training Coordinator over this term. I would like to express my appreciation of Jeff’s cooperative and supportive style and express my enjoyment of our teamwork.  Many of our duties overlapped and required constant communication between us to discuss problems, opinions, solutions and new policies.  We have communicated very frequently over this 2 year period including numerous regular and emergency online meetings between us and also including our colleagues – coordinators, trainers, program directors, EB and TCAB members. As many of our duties overlapped, I will frequently refer to our joint decisions and actions in this report

Certification of Schema Therapists

During this period more than 800 applications in different categories: individual, group, child-adolescent, couples and auxiliary, and on different levels: standard, advanced, trainer/supervisor have been reviewed and approved. A bit more than 1 application for each day including holidays. I was assisted in this by the invaluable national and regional certification coordinators whose number doubled during this period due to added countries. Sometimes their job was quite complicated as not all applicants follow the prescribed formats for the application documents. I want to express my special gratitude to the coordinators, who treated this work with particular care and without whom completing the certification of such an enormous increase in the number of applicants would not have been possible.

As you know, this year the office almost “drowned in the flood” due to the rescheduling and rearranging of our main event – the INSPIRE summit, as well as to the need of change the office management software. The shortage of staff compounded this overload. Nevertheless, Angeles successfully completed most of these tasks including processing certification applications. Her efforts deserve acknowledgment and she has my great appreciation.

Of course, with all of this there were some delays. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or delays this caused for members. To facilitate the processing of the growing numbers of applications and to make the process clearer and more transparent we introduced new formats of applications and checklists. They proved to be more user friendly and expedited the review process. We also recently introduced formal confirmation of the approval of certification before the certificates are issued. This is particularly important for members who need to meet the time period requirements for trainer and supervisor certification.  New automated procedures for reviewing applications will make the whole process smoother and quicker. It was also necessary to spend time reviewing and organizing certification archives from 2008-present to ensure that ISST maintains accurate records of members certifications and training program approvals.

New policies introduced in the certification area

  1. In cooperation with the TCAB (Training and Certification Advisory Board) we have changed the “three years rule” which required completion of the certification process within 3 years of completing the required training component. Previously many candidates had to apply for individual extensions (exemption) due to a variety of personal and professional circumstances. This caused a lot of uncertainty for applicants and additional work for the coordinators. Now the certification (supervision) period can continue beyond three years with the condition that the applicant receive an additional 6 hours of supervision/training for each year beyond three. This makes the process more comfortable for members and minimizes subjectivity in giving exemptions.

  2. In July of 2020, Jeff and I proposed to the Executive Board a new policy that separates ST Supervisor Certification from ST Trainer Certification. It was approved by the EB so now with certain requirements met, an Advanced Schema Therapist can become a ST Supervisor after 2 years. This was done because of the growing demand for ST supervisors around the world. It will help motivated schema therapists become supervisors in shorter period of time compared to the previous requirement of three years. To become a Certified Trainer, another year post-Supervisor Certification is required.  There are other innovations, that were designed to assure the best qualification of future Schema Therapy Supervisors & Trainers.

  3. Due to the pandemic situation which threatened to disrupt the extremely important process of ST training we developed a new temporary policy for Online Training that was unanimously approved by the EB.  Developed in consultation with the leading trainers from all continents, this policy has proved to be very successful. Not only assuring the best option for quality online learning, but also allowing therapists from remote areas to have the opportunity for excellent training, which was not possible in previous times due to expense and travel difficulties. We are constantly monitoring the situation and will consider extending it based  upon the needs posed by the ongoing pandemic crisis.

  4. In addition, important decisions were made to harmonize the differences between ISST and national licensing requirements in various countries. This work will continue and we are currently collecting data on licensing and practice requirements in various countries to develop policies, which, on the one hand, will take into account national differences, and on the other, will ensure the high-quality level of therapists which ISST maintains. In a few cases, after thorough consideration, the Board approved proposals from groups of national training program directors about needed adjustments of ISST requirements to match national standards.

Grandfathering the members of the Dutch Schema Therapy Register (Society)

During 2018-2020 more than 200 Dutch Schema Therapists of different levels (from Standard to Trainer) obtained ISST certification under the auspices of the Grandparenting program for ISST certification developed by ISST and the Dutch Register (VSt). This process started under Joan Farrell and my initiative in early 2018. Special arrangements were worked out during extended consultations including the adjustment of certain differences in the certification requirements of the two organizations. I was privileged to work with the head of the of ISST-Vst Committee Hélène Bögels and its members Arnie Reed,  Christine Zens and Maria Rocher in this process who have done a great job in evaluating and processing many applications from the Netherlands. I want to thank them for their efforts and time spent on this work as well as Jeff Conway, who provided Schema Therapy Supervisor Training Webinars for these newly ISST certified Trainers/Supervisors.

Looking back on the past 2 years, the work of my volunteer position as certification coordinator was not only at times difficult and always time-consuming but it was also a pleasure and a privilege to work together with the team of motivated and responsible ISST Executive Board members. Another accomplishment of this period is that we were able to involve more ISST members to actively discuss, decide and participate in developing of our society. 

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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