Heather Colvin, M.S. Student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

I’m an introvert. I think that is something you should know about me. I despise being the center of attention. So being seen in a video that my peers and professor were going to watch seemed absolutely out of the question for me. Except ... for students in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, it's essential.

In the first semester of graduate school, I was assigned to film a mock counseling video with a peer. I was an anxious, nervous wreck. I called on one of my best friends to help me and act as my mock client. My first video was okay, but after watching it, I knew I could do better. In fact, I was determined to do better. I wanted to show that this was the profession for me, that I could counsel and do a mock video without the anxiety.

​Now, almost halfway through my second semester, I feel so much more prepared when it's time to do a mock counseling video.

Here are some tips for future graduate students:
  1. Employ someone who is going to be a "good" client. A "good" client is someone who will truly help you practice your skills and techniques. They will speak about their issues freely, while also leaving some things open for interpretation.
  2. It is important to know how you're going to present the informed consent. This includes the limits to confidentiality, where in instances of abuse or self harm you would have to break confidentiality with a client. Make this clear and easy to deliver.
  3. End the session smoothly. It can't just end. There need to be a few minutes available at the end of the session to wind down. The client needs to feel good about the end of the session.
  4. Mock sessions are the place to see which techniques work and which do not, and what sort of things I need to change in the future to become a better counselor. Mock sessions give me a chance to focus on my nonverbal presentation and to make changes where they need to be made.

Overall, I think the most important thing for me when I’m going into a mock session is to try and remember that I need to be treating it as if it's a real session; focus on the presenting issues while putting forth my counseling skills and guiding approach. Take advantage of the process.