Each week, about fifteen of my classmates and I log onto Blackboard every Monday night for our weekly internship supervision class. Coming from a music history background, internship class is unlike any other class I’ve ever taken--we meet in a virtual classroom and the materials differ each week depending on the case studies presented.
Online class has its drawbacks, for sure. We always get off to a kind of rough start as we all try to set up equipment and make sure we can all see and hear each other. While the technology that allows us to do this is amazing, it’s certainly not foolproof, and we’ve had a few rough class sessions. Thankfully, there’s always some way to communicate and give feedback, even if it’s just the basic chat function, and we always come away with something useful to try.
Online class can also be prone to interruptions from “family” members who otherwise wouldn’t be present in an online class. I feed the dog, cat, and guinea pigs beforehand, give my husband lots of warning, and then barricade myself in the kitchen for that hour and a half. Still, I’ve had to run for the noise-canceling headphones when my husband decided to practice trumpet in the apartment (in his defense, that was the day of the LSU bomb scare and he couldn’t practice at school) or bribe my dog with a treat. One memorable evening, my husband poked his head in and mouthed “Emergency!,” which turned out to be a large frog hiding under our ottoman. Naturally, my professor called on me as soon as I slid back into my seat.
Tech snags, hungry guinea pigs, amphibious interruptions, and all, I am still so grateful for the chance to connect with my professors and peers once a week. Supervision gives us a chance to think through client issues that might stump us individually. We also have the chance to receive perspective from someone with decades of experience behind him. The case studies may not seem helpful right away, but someday, a very similar client may be sitting in front of us--and we’ll have a good idea of where to start.
Supervision also provides a connection to each other. It’s a weekly reminder that none of us are going through this trying experience alone, and that we all have similar doubts, fears, struggles, and triumphs. I get a weekly dose of confidence as I offer up suggestions to my classmates and realize that my suggestions are just as valid and useful as anyone else’s.
That connection has turned out to be the greatest part of supervision, for me at least. For an hour and a half every Monday, I get to see and talk to people that I’ve grown to care about over the past two years. On a lonely day, I can remember that there are people that care about me, too--they’re just not all in Baton Rouge. On a joyful day, I can remember that I’m lucky enough to have friends and colleagues all over the country. Each day, my class serves as a valuable link between my old life in Nebraska and my new life in Baton Rouge.
I usually sign off the computer feeling a little homesick for Nebraska. I’m learning that autumn doesn’t come to Louisiana in quite the same way, and miss seeing the tractors harvesting corn and the squirrels fattening up for the winter. But at the same time, I know that I’m exactly where I need to be right now--and that once a week, I can sign on get a little perspective, as both a counselor and as a person.
Kristen Eckhardt is a counselor-in-training at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, completing her internship this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more about her experiences and her takes on counseling issues at www.feetintwoworlds.wordpress.com.