Back to school time. I had my new classes for the first time these past few days, and I'm relieved to be able to report that things went better than I had expected. My Monday class is called Administration and Supervision, which I had interpreted as BORING. But the truth is, it isn't a business class at all - it's about supervising in a clinical counseling setting, which I actually understand the importance of and am interested in exploring more. The challenging part of the class is that it is typically one of the final classes a student in my program takes before graduating. I was the newest member to the program in my class; most of my classmates are in their last semester or have gone through a couple years of the program already. Its difficult to take the class at this point because I have no field experience in counseling. I have some experience, way back, at leading groups, but I don't have any formal one-on-one counseling experience, which makes it hard to understand the role of a supervisor. But hopefully it will work out. What I was even more pleasantly surprised about was the friendliness of my classmates. At first I was intimidated by the fact that they had all been in the program for so long, feeling a bit out of my element. Also, I figured that they all know each other well since they have been together for so long. But everyone was really friendly to me, welcoming me into their group, even offering to suggest which professors to take for upcoming classes and giving me advice about my current classes. They were generally older, many of them part-time, students, which I like a lot, and found a lot of connection from days in Baltimore. It was really good. Then last night I had my Intro to Counseling II class. Our professor from last semester, who I didn't have a lot to say about, was replaced with someone new, much more on top of things, seemingly quite a bit sharper, and hopefully more organized. It is a class that I took in undergrad, so some of the material will be repetitive, but it is all important, and at this level, we go much deeper. I had a few of my old classmates in this class, so it was actually nice to walk in and see familiar faces and have someone to talk to. We actually had an interesting discussion. Our professor was telling us about a study that was done to identify the factors that seem to indicate a successful therapist, meaning one whose clients report positive growth stemming from therapy. There were nine factors identified, three in each of there categories - cognitive, affective and behavioral. I don't have the nine factors in front of me, but they were things like the therapist being honest, empathic, being able to universalize problems so a client feels they are not alone in experiencing them. Having insight, really caring about their clients, and being supportive and able to identify with those they are helping. What I found most interesting about these is that I see how they really do work. I see, when I am helping others, and getting the most positive feedback, that I am representing these factors. I get response from those who I can connect with, who I relate to and who I am the most honest with, even if it means showing that I, also, am not perfect. When I show others that I also struggle with the same issues, and I just try to help them have insight into those issues, following the lines of the insight I try to have about them, it seems to truly resonate. It's good to know that, even untrained, many of these factors seem to be tapped. It's one more indication to myself that I have picked the right field to work in, which I have to admit is a relief. So, the semester started with a bang. It promises to offer no shortage of hard work, but like I was telling one of my classmates, I actually welcome that over not working hard at all. Because when I work hard, I learn. And that's what I am there for.