This week, I had one of those fabulous “A-ha!” moments. I relived one of the most stressful activities of graduate school – the dreaded video supervision! I finished grad school more years ago than I will tell you but I recently decided to take the next step and become a counselor supervisor. I love the mentoring process so becoming a supervisor seemed like the logical next step. I happily paid my money, signed up and went to the first session. I immediately got that “first day of school” feeling. A former professor was teaching the course which only added to the déjà vu! I learned there would be video involved but I tried to ignore that fact and embraced the process. Finally the day came to make what would be my video presentation.
As I sat waiting for my “supervisee” to arrive, I felt the anxiety start to build and the butterflies start to flutter. Could I do this? How would I measure up to my fellow classmates? Part of me knew that I had the skills and knowledge to complete the supervision task. The other part of me felt inadequate and unprepared. When my “supervisee” walked in, she looked how I felt. And in that moment, I was reminded of what it was like to sit in the seat of the “supervisee”.
As we journey through our professional lives, we move ever farther away from the experience of being a brand new counselor intern. The apprehension we first felt usually gets replaced with fond memories of our early years. It’s easy to forget how uncomfortable we felt sitting in the new counselor intern seat. Being able to place ourselves back in the intern’s seat gives us perspective. Remembering can enhance the supervisory process and enrich the experience for both supervisor and intern.
No matter how long ago you finished grad school, counselor interns haven’t changed all that much. They still come out of school eager, excited and with refreshing optimism. They also come out with all the same insecurities and apprehensions we had. We didn’t know what we didn’t know yet. We became who we are because somewhere along the way a more experienced counselor guided us, eased our fears and helped us grow. I hope to follow in those footsteps. But first I have to remember where I’ve been. So, tomorrow I will present my video, accept the feedback and embrace the butterflies as they start to stir because they will remind me of just how hard taking the next step can be.
Dawn Ferrara is a counselor in private practice and clinical manager for a community-based children’s mental health program. Her areas of interest include disaster mental health counseling, lifestyle management, and counselor wellness.