Counseling education includes the usual academic exercises as well as hands-on practice. There is no substitute for the practice piece. But, videos can provide students with good illustrations of various counseling activities, styles, processes, etc.
But which videos to watch? The classics (masters in unstaged vignettes)? Training videos (usually staged with actors)? One of the first videos I ever saw was of Salvador Minuchin at the Child Guidance Clinic. There he was in a room, unashamedly smoking a cigarette, and manipulating (in the best sense of the word!) a family with an eating disordered girl. I was taken with his larger-than-life presence in the room and his ability to be irreverent. Needless to say, I could never emulate him. In fact this video that I loved made me wonder if I had what it took to be a therapist.
Last week and this week the practicum class has been viewing Mark McMinn’s christian counseling video produced by APA. One ought not expect the APA to be up on Christian counseling (and its many varieties) but this video is useful for many reasons. First, Mark illustrates a relational style of cognitive therapy and so what he does in this first session is usable in almost any method of counseling. Second, the counselee is not an actress. She is a real person with real concerns (which students relate well to!). Third, Mark doesn’t merely focus on her problems but does a great job highlighting her strengths and resources. Finally, Mark isn’t a big personality–meaning we can all see ourselves doing what he does.
We use mock vignettes as well. I participated in making some mock counseling videos at Regent in Virginia Beach. Mock sessions tend to focus on discrete skills and are better in 2-3 minute vignettes rather than full sessions, and for beginning students rather than those about to graduate.
If you ever took a counseling class that used videos, what counseling videos did you watch and were they helpful?