ACA Blog

Michelle Wade
Mar 31, 2011

Supervision 2.0: Thinking Inside the Box

Ok, so if you attended the ACA conference and you decided to peruse presenters you MAY have seen my name in the back as a poster presenter. Let me first say that I am completely humbled by that experience and was so grateful for the opportunity. Let me also say that IF you were one of the few that came by, thank you and can you please email me because somehow I lost my registration book with everyone’s email! I am mortified by that small fact for the record.

Anyway, I did present on the topic of online supervision and because I did indeed lose the contact information, I am trying to at least cover some bases and provide some more information based on that presentation.

My poster revolved more about let’s start thinking about doing supervision using technology because the technology is not going anywhere. I think it is our job to try and use technology to its most beneficial purposes for our supervisees as well as our clients. I know in my own Masters practicum, we did the whole videotaping of the sessions and reviewed them in class. However, working with the masters students at Argosy, they do one audio or video tape presentation and their supervision classes on online chats. I am a tech person, and yet I find something missing in both of these supervision techniques. You may ask why and it is simple…the lack of immediacy and the lack of nonverbal cues.

For my own internship, we are using Skype to conduct the supervision classes and they are SO much more interactive. But even that is not being used to its capabilities. Imagine if you will, being able to set up a webcam for a client session and the supervisor being able to provide live supervision to the supervisee through Skype? Maybe using a whiteboard behind the client’s head to project cues for the supervisee without distracting from the session? Technology can allow the aspect of live supervision back into the realm of supervision without having the distracting and sometimes off-putting knock on the two-way mirror.

Another technology one can use in supervision is Second Life. Second Life is an avatar based world in which people can do whatever they do in the “real world”. Dr. Marty Jencius at Kent State is the man to really speak about Second Life, but I will tell you, I checked out the CES training center and was completely impressed by the play therapy room. Imagine if you will being able to role-play with an avatar that actually looks like the 6 year old your 25 year old classmate is supposed to be. Imagine being able to role-play from start to finish a suicide assessment. Second Life allows the participant to interact with the virtual world in a way that can produce the actual anxiety that will likely be felt in that type of situation. So instead of hypotheticals, supervisors can help their supervisees actually live the experience prior to actual clients. Practicum and counseling skills students can begin honing their skills at a micro level in order to apply them in a real world situation.

I need to also make a note of a different technology that I had never heard of that Dr. Christopher Hull at Argosy Tampa presented on, Now I have no experience with this, but I imagine that will be changing in the coming months. From what Dr. Hull explained, is a web-based program that allows one to upload content and then invite those he/she wishes to comment/view the content. In other words, it’s like a protected YouTube. Can you imagine a supervision class that you can conduct in which let’s watch the Gloria tapes and/or a client session together and comment about it? Oh, and did I mention that the comments can be text, audio, and/or video? In other words, each user is in charge of his/her own presentation/style. What a great tool for different types of learners!!

The 21st century is here and fortunately or unfortunately I think that means we as a profession need to embrace technology. We need to begin thinking, how can we use this or that technology to better ourselves as counselors and strengthen the profession. The younger generations are communicating this way and we need to meet them where they are at. Also, isn’t one of our foundation goals within therapy self-growth? If we shut ourselves off from learning and exploring these technologies, then we limit the amount of growth we can achieve. So let’s start planting those seeds people!! (Can you tell the conference energized me?)

Michelle E. Wade is a counselor and doctoral student focusing on in-home therapy and technology in counseling.

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