Fall semester classes are more than half way through, but many of us concurrently immersed in course work and field placements are just beginning to come up to speed and find our own pace. These first weeks have been quite a mental and emotional stretch and that’s because it’s no small leap to move from “I don’t know what I don’t know” to “I know some of what I don’t know” and then begin taking steps to learn and apply so many new skills. There is very little familiar territory here and honestly, that’s all part of the plan. The field supervisor spends weeks endeavoring to place each of us in a setting that will provide all new learning. That probably sounds a lot easier than it is. No two field placements are alike and yet each one provides its own unique and rich learning environment.
One aspect of the field placement that I find both challenging and reassuring is developing a relationship with my field instructor. More specifically, we are encouraged to “make ourselves vulnerable” with our field instructor in order to develop the most authentic, transparent, and beneficial mentoring relationship possible. It takes a great weight off my mind to simply acknowledge right up front that I don’t know everything, that I have a lot to learn, and that I am going to make some incredible mistakes. At the same time it goes against my natural inclination to be that open with anyone outside my immediate circle of family and friends – and doing so on a professional level adds yet another dynamic to the equation. But because I desire to maximize the learning potential of my placement in every possible way, I am willing to step out of my comfort zone.
Beyond the immediate learning this experience provides, it has also given me greater empathy and appreciation for the relationship we hope to develop with our clients. We want them to trust us, to be authentic with us and with themselves, to move past the all-too-familiar barriers they are facing into new and hopefully better territory. With that in mind I am embracing these moments of uncertainty and consciously assessing my thoughts and emotions as I move through this process of personal and professional growth. By doing so, I believe I my efforts will be rewarded with yet another dimension of use of self in working with others.