Using Vendor-Developed or Existing Training
Now that you have completed analysis of your training needs and considered methods to deliver training as well as possible approaches, you can make an informed decision on whether to use a vendor-developed training or to develop your own training. If using an existing training is determined to be the best way to proceed, this section covers important areas to consider in selecting a vendor or consultant. It also provides a variety of resources that you can use to determine targeted workforce development training needs.
Selecting a Vendor or Consultant
Behavioral health agencies can turn to a wide variety of training sources. These include government agencies, state sources, universities and community colleges, nonprofit entities, professional associations, and independent consultants. Because vendors differ widely in the quality of training they provide, most training directors or managers seek to verify the trainer’s expertise—both in content and in delivery skills—through as many channels as possible. It is especially helpful to talk directly to clients such as yourself who have used services of the vendor being considered. Ask for references and explore questions such as these:
- How familiar is the trainer with the content to be presented? Is his or her knowledge current?
- How familiar is the trainer with specific ways in which participants attending will be applying this content in their jobs?
- Is the trainer familiar with State or local requirements, type of agency sponsoring the training, or other variables that are pertinent to training?
- Does the trainer include useful take-home materials that can reinforce learning and serve as an ongoing reference?
- Does the trainer apply principles of adult learning, including providing activities that offer opportunities to practice skills, opportunities for discussion, and embedding questions in lectures to involve listeners and catch their attention?
- Will the trainer have credibility with the audience that will be attending training?
- How will you and the trainer evaluate success of the training?
Several organizations that provide resources, tools, trainers, or training programs include:
- The Education Resources Information Center developed a free guide for small business called Choosing the Right Training Program: A Guide for Small Businesses that discusses seven guidelines to help a small business manager analyze and compare programs to predict training effectiveness. It provides information on the type of questions to ask in selecting a vendor as well as practice worksheets and resources.
- The Behavioral Health Technical Assistance Learning Community (BHTalk) promotes collaboration and knowledge development among individuals committed to making recovery and resiliency the expected outcomes of mental health services. Site members can join groups that allow them to engage in targeted discussions on forums and collaborate on documents; ask questions or describe challenges to seek suggestions from other users; or read and comment on blogs authored by respected figures in the field of mental health. It also provides announcements of training and leadership opportunities on its homepage.
- Mental Health Systems is a non-profit agency founded in 1978 to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities facing substance abuse and behavioral health challenges. They provide a list of professionals who have specific knowledge and experience in a variety of behavioral health and prevention specialties who are available as trainers.
- Behavioral Tech, LLC, founded by Dr. Linehan, trains mental health care providers and treatment teams who work with complex and severely disordered populations to use compassionate, scientifically valid treatments and to implement and evaluate these treatments in their practice setting.
Selected Sources for Training in Behavioral Health
As you begin to look for sources of behavioral health training, there is a wide variety of options available. A good place to start is the Knowledge Application Program (KAP),
which is funded by SAMHSA and provides links to an assortment of resources and information that can assist you in determining workforce development needs. Also, see Professional Development and Educational Resources for Behavioral Health Providers
for more resources on how to use of competency-based approaches to build a stronger workforce, workforce development issues and strategies, or initiatives and training that can improve clinical and business practices, among many other topics.
Additionally, while this list is not exhaustive, the following examples provide a starting point for locating e-learning resources for training:
- KAP’s e-learning opportunities offer online continuing education for substance abuse treatment professionals.
- The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, offers both free and fee-based on-line training in a variety of topics important for mental health and addictions professionals.
- Addiction Technology Transfer Centers, funded by the SAMHSA, includes regional centers that provide an array of technical assistance and training.
- Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies located at Brown University and sponsored by The ATTC of New England Distance Learning Program (DLP) provides a comprehensive list of continuing education courses.
- National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare provides e-learning courses for continuing education, career development, and staff training.
- Center for Credentialing & Education provides on-line courses and examinations to obtain continuing education hours for counselors.
- Institute for Research, Education, and Training in Addictions (IRETA) provides two different types of training programs. The first is focused specifically on substance abuse training for addictions professionals who are in direct prevention, intervention, or treatment roles in the provider community. The second is interdisciplinary training targeted at a broad range of professionals in the addictions field or in program and policy development.
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