This week, we sat down with Helen Randall, Head of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy for Forward Thinking Birmingham. Helen talked to us about BTPP, the psychotherapy training school in Birmingham and the different training opportunities it offers, including the steps you need to take to become a Child Psychotherapist.
Tell us a bit about your role
I've worked for the Trust for about 20 years now. After qualifying, I started as a child psychotherapist in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). Before training in child psychotherapy, I had a number of different jobs, including working for GEC Turbine Engineering and being a social worker and classroom assistant. Currently, my role is Lead for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy in Forward Thinking Birmingham. We're a city-wide service, and we work across the whole FTB age range, as our clinical training is in working with 0-25s.
What is BTPP?
BTPP is the Birmingham Trust for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
It's the psychotherapy training school in Birmingham, located in the Custard Factory in Digbeth and, although it's based in Birmingham, it serves the whole of the West Midlands region and is a resource for anyone working with children or young people and families.
It has several different functions, one being the home of clinical training for people who want to train as child psychotherapists.
What does the training for child psychotherapists involve?
The training for child psychotherapists is an apprenticeship model, so trainees spend four days a week working in an NHS Trust like FTB, and one day a week in college. These trainees work for a Trust for four years – it's quite a long training.
They are a fantastic resource for NHS trusts as their training is fully funded, so the NHS Trust get a talented and passionate trainee who works four days a week, for free.
Our trainees get a really good training in Forward Thinking Birmingham and the children, young people and families that they work with get a great service from them. We use play therapy and drawings to help children and young people find ways to express how they feel, as well as talking with them.
You might think the training is for someone who has just come out of university, but all our trainees are people who are very experienced and have come to train as Child Psychotherapists as a second career. Often they have been mental health professionals, teachers or social workers.
What other courses does BTPP offer?
The training school runs a whole range of courses - from very short courses that are just a few weeks long through to a part-time postgraduate master's level qualification. This course is for anyone who might not necessarily want to train as a child psychotherapist but who is working with children and young people and wants to add a psychodynamic way of thinking to their existing training. It's called Working with children, Young People and Families: A Psychoanalytic Observational Approach. I'm the lead for this course and we're about to recruit new students for September.
A psychodynamic way of thinking involves looking under the surface of what a child or a young person's behaviour might really be telling us. So thinking in a lot of depth about how we communicate, not only in words but through our bodies and what we do. You'll also learn about child development and exciting neuroscience research, such as the latest thinking on the adolescent brain.
The two-year Postgraduate Diploma observation course is part-time. The commitment is just one Friday afternoon a week and ten Saturdays in an academic year, and at the end of two years, you get a postgraduate diploma from the University of Essex and the Tavistock Clinic in London. It's also possible to continue with a third year, and get a Masters' Level (MA) qualification.
It's a really great opportunity for anybody working with children, young people and families to deepen their understanding of children. It's completely unique as you have the chance to observe a baby for two years to learn how we develop our personalities right from the start of life. Whatever your profession or clinical discipline, it enables you to further understand your clients or the young people you're working with.
It also acts as the Foundation Course for the four-year clinical training in Child Psychotherapy – anyone wanting to be a child psychotherapist needs to do this course first.
Who is BTPP open to?
BTPP is open to anyone looking to train as a child psychotherapist or people who want to add to their existing training. We aim to keep our front door as wide open as possible.
We want to make the profession more accessible and more inclusive for everyone. To reduce barriers to accessing the training, we have a national lead for equality, diversity, and inclusion for all the four training schools nationally. The national EDI lead is located in Birmingham at BTPP – something we're very proud of.
BTPP was also set up as a charity to ensure that money should not be a barrier to anyone accessing the training. Although the clinical training is fully funded, you need to do a two-year pre-clinical course (the observation course described above) before starting the free clinical training and you have to pay for that pre-clinical course. However, we do have bursaries and sometimes employers will contribute. For anyone interested who's concerned about the costs, please get in touch and we can let you know about the financial support on offer.
To find out more, book a free place on our online Open Evening by contacting Jayne, our administrator on info@btpp,co.uk. The Open Evening will be on Wednesday 16 March at 7pm on Zoom. You'll have the chance to meet tutors (who are all Child Psychotherapists) and current students for a Q&A session.