In my last article on BPS QSEP, the qualification taken by masters graduates to obtain chartered status as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist, I talked about how to get started by finding a supervisor and placement. I also, hopefully, de-bunked some of the myths people may have about where they’ll expect to be working as a sports psych post-masters (hint: it probably won’t be at Man Utd…)

Generating work as a trainee sports psychologist is all about working the contacts you may already have, and hopefully generating a “snowball” from there through networking. But what do you have to actual do to complete the qualification? What are you assessed on and what evidence and assignments do you have to produce?

Completion of QSEP is dependent on demonstrating competence in 4 key roles:

Key role 1: Ethics

  • Complying to the BPS’s Code of Ethics and the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, and making decisions about your practice based upon them
  • Engaging in continued professional development (CPD) (E.g.: attending additional training courses or workshops)

Key role 2: Consultancy

  • Assessing requests for consultancy and planning interventions
  • Establishing, developing and maintaining working relationships with clients
  • Conducting, monitoring and evaluating your consultancy

Key role 3: Research (yes, there’s more of this)

  • Completion of either:
    • A 9-12000 word empirical research investigation
    • A 9-12000 scientifically grounded case study
    • A 7000 word literature review plus either a 4000 word empirical research investigation, or a 4000 word scientifically grounded case study
  • The time spent conducting research on stage 2 is, in fact, expected to be equal to the time spent consulting, and to be at a standard intermediary between masters and PhD level

Key role 4: Communication

  • The communication skills which underpin your work in all of the above key roles (ethics, consultancy and research)
  • Disseminating the results and impact of your consultancy and research, for example, at conferences or team meetings
  • Communicating to other audiences such as magazines and websites (I’m ticking that box right now)

Demonstrating competency in key role 3 (research) is fairly self-explanatory: you submit one of options by the end of your training. If you’re working as a private practitioner outside of a university, conducting research can be difficult. This may put certain limitations on the scope of your research. If you’re completing stage 2 alongside a PhD however, it can be decidedly easier. But how do you demonstrate competency in the other key roles?

This is done through a number of elements which combine both key roles 1, 2 and 4. A reflective diary must be submitted every 6 months (or once a year on the part-time equivalent), with separate sections for reflections on key roles 1, 2 and 4. For example, for key role 1, reflect on instances where you have had to consider the BPS code of ethics during your practice, or what you have learnt on a CPD activity. For key role 2, reflect on the efficacy of your consulting, the merits and drawbacks of the chosen approaches you used, and what you will do differently in the future for example. And for key role 4, consider how effectively you’ve communicated during different activities, whether research, consultancy or dissemination. In particular, consider your different audiences, and how you’ve adapted your delivery style to meet their level of understanding.

When you first start QSEP, you’ll probably find a lot of things to reflect on. Doing a lot of things for the first time, you’ll probably find yourself reflecting on all your activities. However, as time goes on, as you become more comfortable in your methods for consulting and communicating, you’ll probably find less things to reflect on which you haven’t already done so already. Then it becomes more of a case of being selective and choosing the most pertinent events to reflect on, which will add greater value to your demonstration of competence (things which didn’t go as you planned them too, ethical dilemmas where you had to stop and consider your codes, or anything new from your reading or CPD which you’ve applied to your work).

The other significant part of your submissions will be your case studies. You must submit 4 in total (on the full-time qualification: 1 after a year, 1 after 18 months, and 2 with your final submission). The case studies should demonstrate all the elements of key role 2, plus demonstration of relevant areas from key role 1 and 4. In other words, a description, explanation and evaluation of your work with an individual sportsperson or team right the way through from assessing their request to evaluating the effectiveness of the consultancy.

You should demonstrate at least two different psychological approaches with your case studies (i.e.: cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychological skills training, mindfulness-acceptance-commitment, solution-focussed, etc). An eclectic mixed-approaches style (a bit humanistic, with a dose of cognitive-behavioural and some mindfulness chucked in for good measure) will not be seen as a demonstration of how to strictly apply a particular psychological approach. So in other words, if you develop a preferred approach (e.g.: cognitive behavioural), you need to be open to applying a different approach (e.g.: solution focussed) for at least one of your case studies at some point.

The length of these case studies is currently being reviewed by the qualifications team as I type. They were set at a maximum of 2500 words, which from experience I can say is very hard to stick too. The word limits may well be increased in the near future. Having said that, many aspects of stage 2 QSEP are subject to change. It’s always useful to check the BPS website for changes in the qualifications handbook, where you can get more detailed information on all aspects of the qualification, including other bits and pieces you’ll need to complete which I haven’t touched on here. Who knows, by the time you read this, everything I’ve written about might be redundant!

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