Doing the PADI Psychological Diver course during lock-down

Divers connecting from all over the world on the PADI Psychological Diver course.

I wrote PADI Psychological Diver in 2015, and created the elearning in 2016. It’s always been that students take the elearning, and then (to receive the PADI certification) must attend in person for the classroom session or optional dives. The course can be completed “dry”. For years divers have contacted me from all over the world, asking if we can do the classroom session online. In all that time I’ve said no, because PADI specified that their must be a physical, in-person session.

Quite few divers were happy to take the elearning, which contains all of the theory for the course, and is closely linked to other diving courses. In fact, at present the reviews you can see of the course refer to the elearning. Divers have found this first part of the course useful in understanding themselves as divers. But, it’s not quite the same as meeting with your instructor to explore the theory and figure out what it means to you and your diving. Divers also like to attend the course to gain a certification. (Did you know it’s a distinctive specialty and it counts for Master Scuba Diver?)

I’ve thought about offering the classroom session online, via videocall, for a long time. I work online as a psychologist, offering consultations via Zoom. I love working this way and see lots of benefits for the people I work with. So I’ve spent a lot of time researching online technology and studying how to use this medium for teaching and therapy. Given that PADI Psychological Diver is a theory-focused course, and that what we are studying is not something we can touch, the classroom session looks pretty much the same online as it does in a physical dive centre. The only difference is you don’t need to leave your house!

So, I’ve wondered about offering it fully online. But, there was no precedent: no other PADI courses were offered like this. I focused on local courses and have begun to offer instructor-level courses so that it can be taught more widely by other instructors. But that didn’t help the divers contacting me from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia … and it wasn’t even that helpful for those in the UK that weren’t within travelling distance.

But a few weeks ago the world changed.

Now working online is normal and physical proximity is actively discouraged/prohibited.

There is a lot going on. The pandemic is touching the whole world and many of us are experiencing tough times, on all sorts of levels. Yet we are still divers. And for those of us who are able, there is a desire to connect to that part of ourselves, and to other divers.

With the range of measures in place internationally, scuba diving is on hold for many of us. There are a lot of dehydrated divers at home right now! There are also instructors and dive centre owners who won’t risk the health of their divers, but do want to help them. So the dive agencies, including PADI, have granted permission for certain courses to be offered fully online. This of course only applies to “dry” courses, ones where the student can meet all of the performance requirements without diving.

PADI Psychological Diver is one of these.

When this was confirmed, I set up the pilot course via Zoom and offered the places to people who had already completed the elearning. That was on the 17th April. It seemed to go well, and I was able to get some great feedback from those who participated. It was also lovely to “meet” and talk about our experiences as divers. It was clear that interacting and telling stories about our dives was important.

The second course I offered was on 7th May and was equally enjoyable. On that day there were two of us in England, one in California, one in Paris and one in Canada! All of us restricted to our homes and sorely missing the ocean. Different people and backgrounds connecting as divers and learning about diver psychology from each others scuba stories.

The next classroom session I’ll be offering is early morning UK-time, it’s for divers in Australia and New Zealand. We’ll be on opposite sides of the planet, showing what a small world it is when you are a scuba diver!

If you are interested in taking the course, fully online while the Covid-19 measures are in place, take a look at the details here. Remember it is in two parts, the elearning and then the classroom session which are booked and purchased separately.