Although the content of each course is different, the training programmes all follow the same structure.

09:30 – 11:00Check-in and Group Process
11:00 – 11:30Break
11:30 – 01:00Theory
01:00 – 02:15Lunch
02:15 – 03:30Small Groups
03:30 – 04:00Break
04:00 – 05:30Large Group Practice

Group Process

This is an opportunity for students to share their own experience with the rest of the group.  Often, particularly with new training groups, the lively chatter of a moment before gives way to sudden silence at this point! People gradually warm up. Listening to others’ experiences both helps us to learn more about them and about ourselves. Feedback from others in the group is an important part of this process, as is the closeness built up by being open with others. Over time, students begin to integrate this with what they are learning in other sections of the course: what they experience of themselves and others here helps make sense of the theory and the learning about practice as a therapist; in turn, the theory sheds light on their own experience.


In this session, a specific aspect of theory is taught. Our style of teaching is non-shaming and interactive, encouraging students to share their knowledge and experience rather than the trainer being the sole ‘expert’. Experiential exercises are equally the way theory is conveyed at the Sherwood Institute.


The extra 15 minutes allows plenty of time to get served in one of the numerous café-bars and restaurants in Nottingham City Centre (5 minute walk away). Or you may bring in lunch and make yourself a hot drink.

Small Group Practice

Students form groups of around 3-5 people to practise being ‘therapists’.  This is a chance to put to practical use the theory,  skills.  The group take it in turns to be ‘therapist’ while another is ‘client’, with the remaining members acting as observers.

At SPTI we don’t role play ‘the client’ or work with hypothetical scenarios: trainees taking the role of ‘client’ in these small group sessions, bring their own material; they present personal situations or feelings that are actually of concern to them right then. And this is what the ‘therapist’ works with, supported as necessary by the observers and by the trainer/tutor, who moves from room to room during these sessions, sharing his/her observations and giving guidance. The tutor is also available to call on at any point of need. We believe that nothing can better prepare a psychotherapist or counsellor for their professional work than working with ‘real’ situations in their training, under rigorous safeguards (we take very seriously the need to protect the ‘client’ and also the ‘therapist’).

Large Group Session

This is sometimes known by our trainees – rather ambivalently perhaps! – as ‘the goldfish bowl’ as this is a time when students may choose to work as ‘therapist’  (or volunteer to be the ‘client’) in the centre of the room. This can provide a valuable learning experience for all concerned. It is often followed then, by Journal Time. Students are asked to keep a Personal Learning Journal throughout their 3 or 4 years training and some time for this is provided on workshops. Finally there is checkout /ending time for trainees or tutor(s) to share any thoughts or feelings of this stage.