If you would like to earn some of your income from non-clinical sources, consider running training workshops and courses. It's a great way to help people who don't need or don't want therapy, and it gives you wider visibility in your community. Teaching and training also keeps you professionally sharp.
Your mental health knowledge and skills are highly versatile and can be applied to multiple types of people and settings. The key to success is providing mental health education that people need and are willing to pay for. Here are some examples of opportunities for you to explore:
- People who are convicted of assault, disorderly conduct or spousal abuse are often ordered to attend classes for anger management or domestic violence awareness.
- Parents who have been reported to child protective services may be ordered to attend parenting training classes.
- Parents in contentious divorces may be ordered to complete a course in co-parenting skills.
Businesses and organizations
- Training in communication skills - at all levels - can help improve not only workplace morale, but also productivity and profits.
- As people move up the corporate ladder and assume greater responsibility within an organization, they may need extra training in people management skills.
- Customer service reps often need to learn how to manage their own feelings when attacked or berated by those they serve.
- Boards of directors may hold off-site retreats for personal growth and for team building.
- Family owned businesses may need unique training to address deep-seated dynamics among owners or across generations.
- High school students applying to competitive colleges may benefit from training in interview skills, emotional control and focus during interviews, and other self-management skills.
- Parents of children with special needs often need structured guidance in understanding laws pertaining to their situation and in advocating for their child effectively.
- Teachers can use training in several areas related to psychology and mental health - for example, motivating students, dealing with difficult parents, and dealing with workplace politics, to name a few.
- Home schooling parents may benefit from classes that address child development, sibling rivalry and other family dynamics as they pertain to their children's education.
How to get started in community teaching and training
1. Find out what is already being offered. If a training program has been in existence for a few years, that means there is an ongoing need for it. If the program has a wait list, or if it is offered only once or twice per year, there may be an opportunity for you to do something similar.
2. Find out who is paying for the types of programs you are interested in. Some programs are paid for by participants, while others are funded by agencies or organizations. The latter often provide their programs free or at low cost to attendees. If you decide to set up a training program similar to one that is already available at little or no cost to the public, you may want to consider seeking grant money or partnering with an agency, rather than charging attendees directly.
3. Identify a need that has not yet been met. Follow the local news and notice trends in the types of problems they report. Can you come up with a workshop or course that would have positive impact on one of these problems? Your target audience could be those with the problem, or those who work with such people.
4. Test the waters. If you are introducing a new type of training or a new angle on current programs, you may not have enough data on which to estimate the level of interest from people who could benefit. Thus, start by giving brief presentations on the topic. You probably won't get paid, but you will have the opportunity to hear questions and feedback from the audience, which will help you hone your approach. Dr. Tom Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic books and training materials, got started this way.
5. Get involved with the segment of the community that has access to the people you would like to teach and train. Thus, if you want to work with people in the court system, get to know attorneys, forensic psychologists, probation officers and agency social workers. If you want to do training for business, join the Chamber of Commerce or civic clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis. If you want to help teachers or parents of students, get involved in their organizations. Within your community of interest, you will probably meet a gatekeeper or two who can help pave the way for you to introduce your training program and to find audiences who could benefit from the training.
Keep in mind that it may take a year or more to get your training program up and running. Like any major project, it will require research and planning, and possibly some financial investment. And you will probably need to make adjustments as you encounter obstacles. However, once your program is launched, it may lead to new opportunities, from local to international.
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