Yoga Therapist Training Competencies and My Daughter’s High School

Yoga Therapist Training Practicum Observation

Yoga Therapist Training Practicum Observation

Last night I attended Back to School Night at my daughter’s high school. I was pleasantly surprised to find that several of her teachers are quite progressive in their teaching methodology and grading systems. To paraphrase her physics teacher:

At the end of the day who do you want packing your parachute? It’s the student who can show that they are competent at the end of the course.

In other words more important than a quiz, or if the student had a good start or a bad start, had to work extra or not, what really IMG_7323 Nicole DeAvilla  assistingmatters at the end is competency. Several of her teachers spoke about the need for the students to leave with a practical application of the subject matter so that they could use what they learned in real life situations out of the classroom.

The International Associations of Yoga Therapist’s Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists adopted in 2012, were constructed with the idea that at the end of a yoga therapists training the bottom line is that they should be competent. It really doesn’t matter if they attended every single class, whether they handed their homework in on time, participated in class discussions, or even aced a difficult anatomy and physiology exam.

At the end of the day, we all want to know – especially if we are the clientscan they safely and effectively care for the client that is in front of them?

While this may make obvious sense it has not been our culture in K-12 education as well as in the field of yoga therapy to evaluate or assess for competency in this way. This is not to say that no assessment has been taking place, however, the idea that graduates of a program need to show competency in a wide variety of aspects of yoga and yoga therapy has been given short shrift.

In this old model, a student could fail or do poorly in some aspects of their course and excel in others and then get an average grade that was passing. In the new model, graduates are being asked to have at least a passing minimal level of competencies in all areas of study pertaininLegs Up Yoga Therapy Modificationg to the Educational Standards. To understand why this distinction is important, let’s put our shoes on as though we were the yoga therapist’s clients.

Let’s say that I choose a yoga therapist who did well on their tests of yoga therapy terms, wrote a good thesis paper and was in attendance at every class. However, they never spent much time practicing their skills as a yoga therapist. At best they were given a final test with a mock client with a single issue or two that easily fit into a formulaic approach and they passed that as well. However, I come to them with a few complex problems and the formulaic approach for one issue actually exasperates another one and I leave the session feeling misunderstood and feeling worse – and thinking that yoga therapy could never work for me.

If we count only hours of attendance and passing a few tests to confer the title of yoga therapist we risk not only hurting individuals but also alienating future clients and potential employers of yoga therapists and do our industry (and the world in need of what yoga therapy can offer) a great disservice.

Knowing how important it is to teach and assess for competency, I was intrigued and gratified to see that a few of my daughter’s high school teachers really underststock graduate yoga therapistood the difference. They didn’t present the usual grading system that I have seen so many times in the past. So, as it is in K-12 education as well as in our own industry we are waking up to the fact that it is essential that we have good assessments so that passing a program of yoga therapist training is not based on hours completed and perhaps a few quizzes and/or tests, but on competency.

So whom do I want for my yoga therapists?

The one who knows how to pack my parachute correctly so that when they take me to great heights in my personal well being, I know I will have a safe landing.



In a future blog post I will discuss some of the best practices for assessing for competency and why it matters. Oh and I have a few more tips from my daughter’s progressive high school teachers you might like.


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