Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Skill Development

What is it?

Learning a new practice technique or intervention requires being well-versed in the knowledge base behind it, information about doing it, the attitudes or values needed to deliver it, as well as the actual skills that have to be performed at a certain level of expertise, to have the desired effect.

If your organization is interested in having personnel, regardless of their discipline or background, have the competency to deliver the most advanced techniques in psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery, it is important to have an overall plan to help staff move from their current level of performance to an expertise level.

Skill Development – Specific Interventions/Processes

All skill development training requires staff to work with the people they serve, recording themselves applying skill components, step by step, with the written, audio or video recording sent for feedback to a supervisor. However, there are many different ways of organizing such expertise training for any one of the many practice techniques or interventions that may benefit the people you serve.

Phased Training

For example, you might consider phased-in training — that is, having staff go through knowledge-based training first, either through online technology or in person or some combination of the two.

From this, with our help, you can identify which staff are best suited to the practice. We can then assist in creating a second phase in which staff are supervised as they go through structured exercises, practicing with 2-5 selected individuals with whom they are already working, or with whom they will begin working in your organization. This practice can be delivered through distance learning.

Integrated Training

Another plan would include one integrated training process that begins at the level your staff  as a group, currently perform the intervention. The training is then designed to result in expertise for the overall group, over a 9 -18 month period, depending on the practice being learned, the organization and the clientele served.

These are just two examples of the way expertise training can be delivered. We collaborate with you to consider your staff, the people you serve, issues of time and cost to tailor a feasible and effective plan for your organization or group of organizations to develop in-house experts in the selected practice.

Skill Development – Training of Trainers/Supervisors

Skill development can be a costly endeavor, especially for large organizations with many staff and average to high turnover rates. It may be more cost effective to train a group of staff, identify the strongest, highest performing individuals within the group and then train these 6-8 staff in the skills of creating and delivering training programs for the rest of the organization’s personnel. These training skills can be independent of the practice intervention or technique itself.

The training model involves first, briefly training the selected 6-8 trainer candidates in the basic skills of training, followed by supervising them as they then each train another group of staff to expertise. In this way, the training program ends with in-house capacity to continue training as well as a significant group of current staff already trained, through the process.

Supervisory training follows this same model of teaching, but teaches the supervisors how to deliver “at elbow” staff teaching and the individual supervision processes which are most common in agencies.

Skill Development – Training in Program Consultation

Consulting with program managers and leadership on ways to modify the infrastructure of a program requires not only good interpersonal skills and negotiating skills, but also expertise in organizational assessment and strategic planning, including the “nuts and bolts” of what it takes to implement and sustain a particular practice.

Learning program consultation skills involves learning the basic practice to be implemented and then spending a brief period learning consultation skills, followed by close supervision as the consultant candidate provides implementation support for a segment of the organization or another organization within your network.

Training Programs available for Skill Development

Vocational Recovery

  • Vocational Peer Support
  • Vocational Illness Management and Recovery
  • Job Retention and Development

Psychiatric Rehabilitation

  • Person-Centered Readiness for Psychiatric Rehabilitation: Assessment and Development
  • Setting a Self-Determined Overall Rehabilitation Goal: Identifying a Valued Role
  • Person-Centered Skill and Support Assessment
  • Developing Critical Skills to Achieve a Role
  • Developing Critical Supports to Achieve a Role

Promoting Recovery

  • Partnership Skills to Promote Recovery
  • Inspiring Skills to Promote Recovery
  • Teaching Skills to Promote Recovery
  • Choosing Skills to Promote Recovery

Visit the Training Programs page to see details about each of these programs.
Learn more about the Training Programs


If you are interested in learning more about skill development options for your organization or system, contact:

Dr. Marianne Farkas
Director of Training and Consultation
Email:; Phone: 617-353-3549.