Video: Exciting the Human Potential: Connecting with Ourselves and with the People We Supervise

Speaker: Jason

All right, it's time to introduce our keynote speaker. Robert Carter is a board-certified psychologist who has been licensed for 30 years. He has a long list of awards and credentials and accomplishments that we would rattle off in a typical introduction. But knowing Robert's affinity for the human connection, I decided to let some of his previous supervisees introduce him. One previous intern said that "Robert dignified me as a supervisee, a novice, and a junior. Robert was a personification of hope." Another said, "I love how incredibly seen I always felt when I was with Robert." Somebody else said, "I learned so much from him about the impact of slowing down and bringing my humanness into the therapy room." Another previous intern said, "I have had the privilege to interact with numerous counseling psychologists across the country in some very prestigious programs. Robert's ability to facilitate healing and awareness is without question, uncanny." Now, as one of his previous supervisees myself, I'm going to add a few observations. Few people are more fully present than Robert Carter. He chooses to live at a pace that allows him to slow down enough to truly listen. Now even though our agency and our culture in general for that matter often becomes very busy, Robert somehow never seems rushed or harried. Many of Robert's strengths are intangible and might be best described with words like I used a minute ago. Presence. There's just a rare peacefulness about him that sets others at ease. He's shown me the importance of taking on the perspectives of others, particularly those who don't have as much power or privilege. Countless Texas A&M students have benefited from Dr. Carter's calm presence during the stormy seasons of their life and numerous counselors in training had the experience, it really is an experience, of sitting with Robert as their supervisor. As a previous supervisee under Robert's supervision, it is not so much the lessons that are taught as it is a way that is caught. So, this morning I'm pleased to welcome Dr. Robert Carter and as our keynote speaker.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

 Thank you so much, Jason. Good morning everyone. I want to begin by saying that I am a man with gray hair, and I am wearing a blue and white striped shirt. For those of you who can see me on the screen, you'll have to trust me when I tell you that I'm wearing khaki pants. And this is the first example already of thirty-seconds into the keynote and I'm already asking you to trust the presenter. What's up with that? I wanna secondly, just thank the symposium committee. It's, it's truly an honor to be chosen by you all to have this opportunity to speak with you all this morning. And secondly, I want to thank you all for your extremely hard work in pulling this off, making this on online Symposium, virtual symposium. I'm thrilled that we're doing it on Zoom. Zoom is a very accessible platform for people with visual disabilities like myself. They made it accessible from the ground up. And that's not true for all the video conferencing platforms, so I'm really glad that we're able to make use of Zoom In this way. We all share a real passion for supervision so it's gonna be a fun day to spend it with people who share my passion. Before I really get into my presentation or at least the formal part of it, I want to say that my presentation today, in and of itself, is not about systemic racism. But I grew up in the deep south in North Carolina where racism was everywhere, including in my own family, which made me learn to be a racist. And I've worked hard to begin to undo a lot of that. And it was interesting that that work kind of started for me at, at about age six years old when I was in first grade.

I had to tell my teacher much to my shame and embarrassment that I could not manage the lunch tray in the cafeteria by myself. I needed help. And I asked the teacher for help. And she in turn, again, kind of much to my shame and embarrassment, turned to the class and said, is there anybody else, or is there anyone in the class here who would be willing to help Robert in the lunch room? And only one of my fellow six-year-old class members volunteered. His name was Willie, and he was a, a Black kid. And it's awkward in the best of circumstances for sighted and blind people who don't know each other to figure out how to help and get the help that you need. But Willie was willing and able to be kind to me and be vulnerable to me and figure out how to help me with my tray in the cafeteria. And I suddenly began to realize, you know what? Willie's not very much like the way that my family talks about Black people or the way that I hear about Black people on TV. Something doesn't really add up here. This is not my experience of, of Willie. I'll always remember Willie's kindness, his grace, his willingness to stand up and say, "I’ll help you; I'll help you here in the cafeteria. I'm happy to do it." It brings a tear to my eye, just thinking about it 58 years later. Because Willie and I somehow managed to make a real human connection in spite of everything that I had learned, it turned out not to be true. I gotta tell you though, I'm still working on it. I make lots of mistakes.

 I struggle to, to, to rise above systemic racism. And it's almost a 100% certainty that I will make mistakes during this presentation. I will very likely say something that will be hurtful or offensive or upsetting to someone here. And when I do, I invite you to send me an email so that we can schedule a time to dialogue about it. Now, don't misunderstand me here. I'm not asking you to come and dialogue with me, to help me with my racism, are to fix it for me or to somehow rescue me from my discomfort. Those are all things that I have to do for myself. You can't eat, sleep, or breathe for me and you can't fix my racism for me. But I 100% believe that part of our healing, part of our growing, part of our changing is the need to establish a human connection where we slow down. We listen, we give each other grace, we learn from one another. I mean, if you think about it, if that wasn't true, why would we even have a profession of psychology or counseling or social work, or supervision or training. Why wouldn't we just do it ourselves, right? Why wouldn't we just heal ourselves and take care of ourselves if we didn't need anybody else. So, what I'm saying is, I want to grow, I want to learn, I want to further the dialogues of openness and connection. So, if, if you realize at some point that it would be good for us to talk, email me at Robert@caps.tamu.edu. and we'll find a time to talk. And I'm dead serious about that. So, I wanna take you back for a few minutes to 1979, some 41 years ago. When I was a master’s student in counseling at a little university in North Carolina called Western Carolina University. I was the student. Remember, I was the supervisee, and I was about to go in and see my first client.

First one I ever saw as a “wanna be" budding counselor. And my supervisor, Dr. Doherty said to me, Robert, before you go in there, put all of your struggles, your worries, your feelings, your thoughts on a skyhook and hang them outside the door. Don't take them in there with you. When you go in there, be a blank slate for that client, just be present for that client. So, I tried my best to do that. I went in there and I was listening, and I was reflecting back what the client was saying. The next week. Dr. Doherty told me, Robert, when you go in there this time, do something to actually help the client, like be-- bring part of yourself in that the client can resonate with, that you can that you all can connect around. And I'm like, wait a minute, sir. I didn't say this aloud. I didn't have the courage say it aloud, but to myself, I'm like, "It's not possible to do what you told me last week and conjunction with what you told me this week. I can't not bring myself in the room and bring myself in the room at the same time." So, the supervision message was very, very confusing to me. It could have been a real opportunity for growth though, if Dr. Doherty and I had established a relationship that allowed for the safety and the comfort and the connectivity to really get and give each other honest feedback. If we had spent some time getting to know each other and connecting on a more human or more personal level, I might have been comfortable saying Dr. Doherty, you're confusing me here with this mixed message. I don't know how to do both things in the way that you've asked me to do them.

And maybe, you know, if we could have done this over and done it differently, maybe he would have been comfortable enough to say, "you know what, I get it, that this is, this is confusing. Let's, let's deal with your feelings of confusing. Let's work through this together. Let's get to a place with this." And maybe he might have even said, "You know what Robert? Part of the reason that my message is so confusing to you is because I'm feeling a lot of anxiety. I don't know how to supervise a blind guy. I don't know what to tell you, how to help you do this." So, then we could have had a real conversation. We could have really done something that would have been actually helpful and beneficial to me in supervision. Whereas what we actually did was, I don't know, maybe marginally helpful. Dr. Doherty got some of it. Right? It is true that we should go into supervision, in my opinion, without a lot of distractions keeping us from really being there and able to listen to our client, we should go there being present. However, what was so wrong about the way he did it, and I can't really blame him because it's what our profession was teaching at the time that he went through graduate school, is teaching people to be a blank slate with your clients. A little like the kind of misinformation that systemic racism taught me wasn't good information. It was not anything that was his fault, per se. But it doesn't work to not bring your whole self into supervision. That doesn't make you less distracted or doesn't make you less able to, to somehow not engage with the client.

The only way to really engage with the client or the supervisee is to be present, is to use those feelings and those thoughts that are an integral part of all of us to be our guide points as we attempt to help another human being who's trying to help the clients that they work with. So that's what we're going to be working on this morning and talking about this morning. And I know a bunch of ways to begin to get at our ability to make real human connection. But the two ways that I want to try this morning are more experiential ways because I don't think anybody here really needs or wants another lecture on supervision theory. Or technique. You know, we've got a lot of theory and techniques in our, in our training programs. So, we're ready to move beyond that. We're kind of like the musician who has already learned the scales. And it would be terribly boring if we all just kept playing scales together instead of improvised and started playing some real music. So, we want to see if we can use ourselves as our instrument to play real music, to make real connections with the people that we work with. So, the two ways that I'm going to work with you on this this morning are through story and through song. Story and song have been integral ways human beings have connected with one another for thousands and thousands of years. This is nothing new. And we all had the experience of hearing someone's story and really resonating with that story and really feeling something deep within us. Get on that person's page, connect with that person. We've all had that experience. Part of the trouble with it though, is that nobody wants to go first.

Nobody wants to be the first person to, to be vulnerable to put yourself out there because it's feels risky and it's scary. And a lot of times we've tried it and we've maybe been rejected or hurt by it. So, we're afraid of doing it. If we don't somehow do it, however, we'll never have the kind of connection that I had with Willie when I was six years old. Which suggests to me by the way, that this, this ability to connect with one another is not something that we have to learn through years of experience or later in life or after we get our master's degree or PhD or our BA or a high school degree, not something that we, that we have to learn later on. It's something that we innately know how to do as human beings, it's just that there's a whole lot of noise and junk and crap in the way of hearing our real self or the part of our self-that’s actually able to make real connections. So, I'm going to tell you a little bit of my story so that you can be able to get on my page a little bit better and understand a bit more about where I'm coming from.

 I was born on January 10, 1956, 64 years ago in a tiny town in North Carolina called Concord, North Carolina. The only real industry in Concord at that time were, were cotton mills, where they made towels and sheets and cloth for clothing and both my mother's parents worked in the cotton mills. That was their entire career from the 1920s to the late 1960s when they retired. My dad's parents, his father was a carpenter, he worked, did construction, work and his mom was a homemaker. My dad had just returned from the Korean War where he served on the front lines for 18 months. He was working as a carpenter's helper in construction. My mom was a stay at home mom. On that Tuesday, January 10, 1956, my mom gave birth to two babies. I had a twin sister named Robin. We were both incredibly premature, each of us weighing somewhere around two pounds each or a little more. We were very premature. The hospital put us in incubators, and I'm convinced that during that time, I learned my first couple of really hard but really important life lessons. The first thing I learned was that life is very fragile. My twin sister only survived for a couple days. She was gone. The second thing that I learned was that life very frequently is a double-edged sword. Something good happens, and at the very same time, something not good happen, something bad happens. That oxygen that was keeping me alive, as it was keeping me alive, was also destroying my optic nerve, which left me totally blind. And Jason, if we could do the, the first Zoom poll right here.

Speaker: Jason

So, it's up, Robert.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

And can you tell me, tell us all the-- read out the results from the poll when it's done?

Speaker: Jason

Yes, let's give it a minute or so.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Okay.

Speaker: Jason

The question reads, I have a close personal relationship with someone who is blind. Looks like with most of the people having voted already, 82% say no. 18% say yes.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Okay. Thank you for participating in that poll. And thank you Jason for doing the Zoom magic there. It doesn't surprise me. Blindness is a pretty low-incident disability and it's very, very frequent that I'm the only blind person in a given environment. So, it doesn't surprise me that you haven't had experience, most of you, with, with someone who's blind. Back when I was born, blind parents tended to keep their blind children pretty sheltered and hidden away in the back room. And this was not all because they were trying to protect them. This was at least in part because blindness is something that a lot of people who can see are terrified by. A lot of people who can see are terrified by the possibility of losing their vision. And they can't figure out how they would function without it. And the stereotypes in our world have pretty much taught us that blind people are pretty helpless and don't usually get very far in our society. And so, if you're the parent of a blind child, you're probably terrified. Not to mention the fact that there's a lot of stereotyping out there that suggests that blindness happens because of something that you did, happens because of a sin that you committed. Or it happens, you know, because, because you didn't you didn't have enough faith, or you didn't do something that you should have done. Even people thought sometimes that that masturbation resulted in blindness.

A lot of wrong information out there. So these, these parents would keep their kids sheltered until they were age five and they would send them off to the State School for the Blind, where they would go for ten months out of the year for the next 13 years until they graduated. And they would get a good education at the state school for the blind, because the teachers there knew how to teach blind people. But they couldn't live at home and they couldn't grow up with their families. They could just come back and visit occasionally. Unfortunately, we've heard in recent years that there was a lot of abuse by the faculty done against the students at the state schools for the blind, for reasons that I don't even have time to even begin to go into. My parents didn't do that. My parents chose instead to pay attention to what they were getting from me as a baby and a toddler and, you know, young kid. They pretty quickly realized that I was very curious and interested in engaging within and in the world and they, they decided to go with it. So, they started taking the out everywhere and introducing me to people and finding every experience they could possibly find for me to have. And, you know, my family is a family of, of doers. And so, when they were riding bikes and roller skating and water skiing, and hiking and camping and fishing, so was I - just didn't allow the blindness to keep me from, from functioning fully in the family activities. Unfortunately, my family doesn't do feelings, so we didn't deal with all the anxiety that I experienced during this time. I went through a period in my early childhood where I had a pretty bad case of trichotillomania. 

I made myself bald in a spot on my head, I pulled so much of my hair out. And that was because of anxiety, but we didn't deal with that all. All I got out of it was "stop pulling your hair." And "if you don't stop pulling your hair, you know, you’re in serious trouble." You might get a spanking for, thought you would get a spanking for it. So, we didn't do feelings. I did those later on in life, in counseling and, and in my own self-analysis and so forth. But I went to public school. And as I told you before a little bit about my first-grade experience, public school wasn't easy for me, it was complicated. Teachers to had no clue how to teach a blind person arithmetic, we called it then, or math we call it now. They just wrote it on the board and most of the time forgot say what they were putting on the board. So I had to figure out how to adapt and get the information that I needed and, and get really good at, at making connections with my classmates and my peers that could, that could help me out when I needed. And also learned the importance of me helping them out when they need it. It needs to be a two-way street. It doesn't work if you're always the person who, who's seeking help, people get tired of that. I went on through, through high school and graduated and went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And that was a whole new situation for me where I really had to up my game tremendously and figure everything out from scratch, including how to get to and from my residence hall to my classes or to get some food. I wasn't sure how I was gonna do that.

But the thing that I knew 100% for sure is that I, well better not call my parents and say, "I can't do this, I'm coming home." It was clear to me that I was expected to get that college degree because my parents saw that it's the only way that I could possibly have a chance of maybe having some success in the world as a blind person. So, I figured it out. What I did was I put an ad in the school newspaper and hired a bunch of students to help me get the help I needed to figure out the campus and the classes, the food and everything. So, I joked that I became a businessman overnight, 18 years old. I had had students on a payroll, and I was always getting them paid through the State of North Carolina for helping me do the things that I needed to do just, just to get through college. Well, I made it through Chapel Hill. One significant thing that happened there was that I started using some really great, very primitive but really innovative microprocessor-based technology. I had a calculator that could talk. It could speak the numbers as you put them in because I couldn't see the display. Had a calculator speak the numbers and speak the answer when you press the equals key. And that was really cool. And only problem with it was that calculator cost me $500, whereas my friends bought theirs at the university bookstore for 20 bucks. I quickly learned that this specialized technology was going to be really expensive and that's continues to be the case today. So, you know, I can even do the math 50 years later or so. But the technology is getting to be very helpful to me. I don't have time, unfortunately, to talk in any, any depth about the technology. So, I graduated from Chapel Hill.

I went on to Western Carolina University where I started seeking a master's degree in counseling. And you know a little bit about my early supervision there at Western Carolina. When I graduated with my master's, amazingly, I got hired as a college counselor by Western Carolina University. And it's tough, it's tough for blind people to get jobs and we'll be talking a bit more about that in a few minutes. But the good fortune of having people who knew me and believed in me and who were willing to go to bat for me, again, you don't do this alone. You don't have success without having the good fortune of having people who believe in you and help you along the way, just doesn't happen. The American dream is just not what we were told it was. It's not just about working hard. While I was at Western Carolina University, working there, I got to know my wife, Vicki, I think is probably on her iPad listening to this presentation somewhere here in the house. Anyway, Vicki and I will be married 36 years in August. And I think our greatest accomplishment has been our son, Graham, who's 27 years old, who lives in New York City, works in the film industry. Graham grew up to be a very kind and gentle person who really understands the value of human connection. I'm so proud of him for that because that enables him to really move forward in the world in the way that I think we're going to have to start trying move forward from here on.

I discovered while I was at Western that I wanted to know more about psychology, so I applied to the PhD program at the University of Florida. Went down there and met with them and they agreed to provisionally accept me into the program if during the first semester I was able to prove to them that I could handle the PhD work. I was so grateful for that and thought that was a very fair thing to do because they didn't know for sure whether I could do it or not. So, they admitted me, and I had a really successful first semester. The way I-- one of the one of the ways I did that was by really getting to know my cohort, the other 11 people who were admitted that year to the doctoral program, figured out who the smartest person was in my class. And I hired her to read for me and tutor me and help me work through the statistics courses, for example, and be prepared to manage those statistics exams. The PhD program was a real challenge for me, and I wish I had time to tell you a couple 100 stories about it, but I don't. So, we're gonna move on. Highlights is what this about. I graduated with a PhD in 1989, started looking for a job. And it turned out that that summer there were three universities in Texas that had job openings in their counseling centers, A&M, TCU and the University of North Texas. I interviewed at all three. A&M offered me the job, the director at the time here, Dr. Wade Birch, who just passed away a few days ago, took the risk to hire me and I thanked him for that a couple of years ago and he said, "Oh, wasn't that big of a risk. You had all the credentials." But I think on some level it was because employers just don't really know much about how blind people can do the job. I've been here at the counseling center at A&M for the last 30 years. And Jason, if we could do the second poll now, I would appreciate that.

Speaker: Jason

It's up. It reads, "in the United States, what is the estimated unemployment rate for blind people?" I'll leave it up for another minute or so.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Thank you.

Speaker: Jason

The options are 30%, 50, 70% percent. [pause] It appears that so far with most of the votes in 13% of participants selected 30%, 39% of respondents have taken the 50% option. 48% have taken the 70% option.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Thank you for that. 48% would be correct. The unemployment rate for people who are blind has been around 70% for my entire lifetime. Hasn't changed much, even though we've had new technologies and advancements in education and so forth. And there are lots of reasons for that. We could do a whole another symposium about that. But the point is it hasn't changed very much and it's discouraging for me and frustrating for me to see how slow change is so often in the important things in our society that need to change. Working at CAPS has been a wonderful experience for me. I have a great relationship with, with our staff, with our leadership team. I've worked closely with Maryanne, our Director for 30 years now. And we get along really well because we're not-- we somehow have developed enough safety with each other that we're willing and able to really challenge each other and really, really move forward with each other. And it's a wonderful opportunity for me and I'm pretty sure that it is for Maryanne as well. It's very cool. Some of you may be thinking or saying to yourself, "It is amazing that that blind man can do all that." If you're doing that and you've put me up on that pedestal, climb up there with me because I've done nothing. I've done nothing that you also haven't done or can't do. Nothing. Yeah.

My blindness has been a good opportunity that has pushed me to slow down, connect, figure things out, reflect, understand the real importance and value of kindness and connection. But it's something that we're all capable of doing, of making those connections with one another. We just have stuff in the way. And we gotta work on getting some of that stuff out of the way. I'm now going to put my Braille display down on the table. And I'm going to pick up my guitar and play a song for you. Really, for us all. I do get it that my music isn't necessarily your music. And this song, you know, may or may not connect so well with you. So, I want you to, I want to encourage you to get what you get from it. No right or wrong here. But I invite you to, to really focus mostly on the lyrics. And focus on what you feel when you hear the lyrics.

[Dr. Carter plays acoustic guitar and sings]

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Well, you fight like the devil, to just keep your head above water. Chained to whatever you've got that you can't throw away. You're shooting through space on this river of life that you're riding. And it's swirling and sucking you deeper on down every day. So, you turn to your trusty old partner, share some old feelings. And you find, too, you're shocked that your faithful companion is gone. And the truth slowly dawns that you're lost and alone in deep water. And you don't even know how much longer there is to go on. [guitar interlude] Like an old Holy Bible, I've clung to through so many seasons, with the rules of survival in words you can still understand. Then they prove something wrong you believed in so long you go crazy. You're so close to folding the cards that you hold in your hand. Singing holy Toledo, I can't see the light anymore. All those horizons that I use to guide me are gone. And the truth slowly dawns that I'm lost and alone in deep water. Throw me a rhyme or a reason to try to go on.

 [guitar and end of song]

Speaker: Dr. Carter

You sit with your feelings and thoughts, whatever they are, for just a moment here. And I'd like us to, to go through these lyrics for this song. I think if we break it down this way, we can really dig in a little deeper with how to connect with ourselves. So, let's, let's take a look at this thing. I'll read the lyrics and, and ask you just to sit with your feelings and to reflect. And once we've done the lyrics, we're going to break out into small groups to allow you all to talk about what this experience has been like for you. So, you're gonna get a chance to talk about it with each other. But, but let's just go through the lyrics first. Well, you fight like the devil to just keep your head above water. Chained to whatever you can't throw away. So, you know what, what comes up for you when you think about well you fight like the devil, to just keep your head above water? For me, a couple of things come up honestly. First of all, you know, in recent years, we have literally, literally seen some of our fellow citizens, most of them citizens of color, literally fighting like the devil to keep their head above water during the floods that have happened as a result of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey and other, other situations. We've seen Pacific Islanders who are sinking below sea level because it's rising, and their island is probably going to disappear. But most, for most of us, it is more metaphorical.

What do you fight like the devil with on a regular basis? What are you chained to that you feel like you can't throw away? And how does that thing that you fight with and that thing you're chained to impact you in your work in supervision? Do you share that part of you with your supervisee or do you keep it to yourself? Does it affect you in ways that you're not even thinking about when you go into that supervision room? And you're shooting through space on this river of life that you're riding. And it's whirling and sucking you deeper on down every day. It makes me think of an astronaut blasting off from Cape Canaveral who doesn't have any control over her spacecraft. She just has to trust that the computers and the rockets are going to get her into space. Maybe if she's lucky at certain points along the way, she has the choice to abort. But that's kinda like life, isn't it? Where so much of it just feels like it's pulling us along and we don't have nearly as much control over it as maybe we like to think we do or maybe we wish we did. How did you deal with that in supervision? How do you bring that in? How do you help your supervisee deal with that reality of life? Or do you just not go there? So, you turn to your trusty old partner to share some old feelings. And you find to your shock that your fateful companion is gone. So how often has your supervisee or my supervisee turned to me and said, "you know, I'm terrified. Like, I don't know if I can really do this work, if I have what it takes to help this client. I don't really know if I am worthy of this job. I'm scared. I'm scared." A lot of times. We've said, "oh, you can do it. Don't worry about it. You've got this." How helpful is that platitude really, you know? Wouldn't it be a lot more helpful if we slowed down and engaged with them, in an exploration of their fear and their humanity?

Have we not all been worried and afraid that we didn't know how or couldn't help someone? Can we not connect around that and work with that as opposed to blowing right past it? When we ignore that opportunity with our supervisee, we both feel lost and alone in deep water. The truth dawns on us that we've missed an opportunity for connection. We've chosen to pull away from the real part of ourselves and our supervisee and we've shut it down. So yeah, we, we feel alone. And it's also true that none of us know how much longer there is to go on. So, what that says to me is we ought to take advantage of what we have right now. We ought to be doing this in the present moment. We don't know how much longer there is to go on. Let's go to the second verse. Like an old Holy Bible, you clung to through so many seasons with the rules of survival in words you can still understand. What comes up for me is, I was taught to use the Bible as a guidebook. But I discovered that, that the Bible didn't come up with the same conclusions that I did about blindness, like it said that blind people were pretty helpless and they were beaten--they didn't have, they needed to renew their faith to get their sight back so they could be fully functioning again or, or they were weak because they were blind. But that hasn't been my experience of blindness. So, the guidebook, at least in that particular instance, didn't really work very well for me. Our supervisees want a guidebook. Just tell me what I need to do, what I need to say to be helpful to this person. So, what happens when we try to offer them these great solutions and great interpretations and great words that they can say to their client? And they try it. And you get back to this idea that somehow when they prove something wrong you believed in so long, you go crazy.

You're so close to folding the cards that you hold in your hand. And who hasn't been close ourselves, or who hasn't been with a supervisee or a client who feels extremely discouraged and feels like giving up, folding the cards that you hold in your hand? Singing holy Toledo, I can't see the light anymore. All those horizons that I use to guide me are gone. And the darkness is driving me farther away from the shore. Throw me a rhyme or a reason to try to go on. So, here's the point of, of that. To me, the, the point really is that we have within us the rhyme and the reason to go on. And that rhyme and that reason essentially is the fact that we are worthy. We are enough. We do have inside us that ability to connect in a real way with other people and to learn and grow together. We have the ability to rise above that incredibly paralyzing feeling of frustration that makes us feel like we just want to throw in-- we just want to fold the cards that we hold our hand, we just want to quit. Course, we wanna quit. That's how it feels. But it's not always best to let our feelings be our complete guide. We need to understand what is our truth at this moment. What are we listening to? Are we listening to our real truth about are our possibilities, our capabilities? Are we listening to some invented truth that somebody has put on us?

Maybe, maybe that has caused us to develop a really critical voice that says inside our head, "yeah, yeah, you oughta just quit because you probably aren't good enough to do this anyway." It's a mistake to let that voice be our guide and I don't think we should get rid of that critical voice. It's helpful to us, right? It helps us balance sometimes, the idea that, that there are things we need to pay attention to or things that, that perhaps that we need to do. But we need to retrain that critical voice not to shame and blame us and put us in this huge world of, of hurt and shame where it feels like we ought to just quit. That's not the whole truth of who we really are. If we can dig down deep underneath that critical voice and get in touch with the real human part of our self that can do better. That CAN connect with kindness, that CAN connect with grace, that CAN slow down and listen to our supervisees and work with them where they are at. If we don't just blow it off, but we stick with it. Now, I'm not saying that supervision is psychotherapy. It isn't. It's our job as supervisors to know the difference. And it's also our job, in my opinion, to have the courage when we need to tell a supervisee, "I believe that your personal struggles are so in the way of your being able to really help this client, that you probably need to do some of your own personal therapy to work on it." because supervision is not the place where we do it. Where we do personal therapy. But it IS the place, at least in my supervision, where we make a very close and real personal connection, which is similar in many ways to psychotherapy. But our reason for doing it is different. Our reason for doing it is to help that supervisee help her clients. Not for the purpose of helping the supervisee resolve personal issues.

However, if my supervisee grows and learns and resolves some issues along the way and if I grow and learn and resolve some issues along the way as a result of my interaction with my supervisee, I'll take it. You know what? That is not a bad thing. What is so wrong with us learning and growing and getting better together? I'd love for somebody who can come up with a downside of that or what's wrong with that. I'd love to wrestle with that more because I don't, no pun intended, that may be a blind spot of mine, but I don't see it. I don't see the downside of us learning and growing together. So, I hope that this way of presenting these ideas and these, they're not so much concepts. We all know these things, right? But we don't really know these things until we experience them, until we feel them, until we engage ourselves with them. I would be really interested if anyone would like to take a few minutes and share your experience in the breakout or your experience so far with the presentation, I think probably easiest way to do this is just to have you use the raise hand feature and Jason or Amaka, whoever's the host now, maybe could just call on people and the people could say what they wanted to say. Is that a reasonable way to proceed for few minutes?

Speaker: Jason

Sure. Diane Lambertson, were you gonna say something?

Speaker: Diane

Hi there, I was actually just thinking, I was just like Hurray! I found the raise hand button. I did really appreciate the song.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Something to celebrate.

Speaker: Diane

Yes, it was. It was something to celebrate.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Did, did you have a thought or comment?

Speaker: Diane

Sure. I really enjoyed your song.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Thank you.

Speaker: Diane

Many things resonated with me. I enjoyed the discussion in our group, and I appreciated everybody's openness and kind of the different feelings that resonated with all of us and the points that were brought out in our small group. One that I and the one thing that I think resonated with me a lot was kind of that reminder about the importance of connection and the importance of authenticity and not glossing over discomfort. To go to the safe place, to not be afraid to sit in an uncomfortable place and being able to model that for supervisees of being able to sit with them in their fear. How do you sit with somebody else in their fear unless you can sit-- unless you learn to sit within your fear?

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Oh, thank you for that.

Speaker: Diane

So that very much, I had a really awesome supervisor who said, I said this in the small group, I had an awesome supervisor who sounded a lot like you in her ability to connect and to do that. And then I had a supervisor who did not and was kind of a minorly traumatic experience at the time, it was difficult at the time with that person and was NOT a positive experience. But it's made me honor that relationship all the more. [Dr. Carter] We always hear that, you know, there's such a variant, a variation in supervisory experience. And wow, I think it's hard for supervisees to know how much to trust, how much to invest. And it's to me, it's complicated in that way.

Speaker: Diane

Agreed. Yes.

Speaker: Jason

Anna Salazar, did you have a comment? I saw your hand raised. Okay.

Speaker: Anna

Sorry. I always have questions for anyone who knows me or has been in a meeting with me. So yes, I can always talk. I was just really grateful for the conversation our group had. We reflected a lot on how today in many overt and subtle ways has highlighted some privilege that we have with able-bodied individuals. And our conversation was enhanced because we happened to have two folks who work with disability accommodations for their students and they're part of that office. And so, they were able to offer some really interesting insight. As I was sharing, in the fall, our office took on a visually impaired student as one of our trainees. And that was very much a learning curve for us. And I know for me as a new training coordinator, there was challenges both overtly and inversely and kind of being aware of my process. And one thing I was guilty of and talking about with the group was, I had told myself, ok, now that the trainee has gone, that's something-- that experience is something I'll reflect on when I have time in the summer and sort of put it on the back burner and let other things take priority. And today was a much needed reminder that it's summer now and I need to follow through on doing some of that work and exploring some of those situations and how both as a person, as a supervisor and at the program, we can do better and be better.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Yeah, you're making some great points. Especially the idea that I thought about trying to delve into more during this presentation, but didn't really, didn't really get there, is, how do we supervise people with disabilities, people who are blind, let's say. And how is, how does that look similar or different from supervising anyone else? It's a, it's a great point.

Speaker: Laneice

I really appreciated our group. We shared different experiences and we each have our own journey through being a supervisor as well as some of our experiences with supervision. And but it seemed like we kept coming back to this same theme related to, in supervision, always remembering to listen to our supervisee, to think of them as a whole person that has multiple layers to them and whether we're three months into supervision with them or a year into supervision with them. And to not get into that complacent place where we think we understand them. And many of us have known Robert a really long time and even this morning are hearing stories that we didn't know about him. So just that reminder of as we supervise, there's always more to learn of our supervisee and how they came to be in this world and how they have their perspectives and appreciation for who they are as individuals. And if I did not get that right from the group, somebody please jump in.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Thank you, Laniece. I love, always love hearing from you.

Speaker: Ana

We had a really good discussion in our group about the power dynamic and the steps that it would take as a supervisee to open up and share their fear when they're under evaluation. Something that stuck with me recently from reading about social justice was this idea that power is often the most difficult to those who don't have it. For me, a reminder as a supervisor to remind myself that I hold more power in the relationship and how my actions impact the other individual.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Yeah, you're right, Ana. That is a really complicated piece of it. What to do with the power dynamic? I always try to help my supervisees get to a place where we're not doing something that is fear-based, are shame-based. We're doing, we're working as a team together. And even if I give them feedback that maybe sometimes is hard to hear, we are collaborating. I really am very concerned about what it feels like having been one many times in my life, what it feels like to be a supervisee and what that power differential can mean. It's just yet another example. I think of a place where we, we need to be able to, if we can, build an environment that's safe enough to even talk about the power differential and what it means for both of us and how we're going to work it through together because it is really confusing to be supervised and be juggling so many things at the same time working with the clients, trying to figure out how to improve your own skills. And you're also faced with trying to meet some sort of goals that you feel that you need to successfully get a good evaluation. So, I mean, it's, it's really complicated.

Speaker: Mary Ann

You know, what? One thing that I-- this is Mary Ann. that I want to point out, Robert was my supervisor in 1989.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Oh, yeah! And I think we have some stuff to finish up. [Both laughing]

Speaker: Mary Ann

That was a really long time ago. But one of the things that was so different when you hear a lot of us speak about use of self and that movement is, we didn't have the clients that you all are juggling. We didn't have the schedules that you all are juggling. And I think that puts additional pressure on everybody to do sometimes more than just be. And, and in our small group we talked about kind of that how much we learn from this new cohort. We just got done with our intern presentations. And I'm watching people connect in their second session in a way that historically I would have been taught it takes ten to get to. And so I think that constantly learning from each other, but also acknowledging the environment being so different that to do the work Robert is really talking about, you have to, you have to kinda have that moment. And sometimes it's, you have to make it, even though there's chaos, a lot of chaos around.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

So, I would argue, Mary Ann, that the doing and the being aren't mutually exclusive. They can coexist and that it doesn't take as long as we used to think to, to build a connection, and your point is a great one about how interns are doing it a lot more quickly. But for me, at least I start with that. I start with, you know, a big part of our time together is going to be you and I talking about how we're dealing with each other. Because that's where a lot of a lot of the doing and the being can happen simultaneously. And, and if we start out with that, in that space of connecting and listening as our foundation, our, as our base, then we can do all kinds of things from there. But I don't know that we can do nearly as much or nearly as well if we don't start from that place. So that I mean, that's kinda how I would respond, but I do get it that you know, that, that it's pressure, pressure, pressure to do, do because all these people are coming through the door. But you know what, for me. I am not a person who can do it multiple people at a time. It's really important for me to have that person that I'm with at that moment be the only important person for that time. That way you can, you stand a better chance of being and doing with everyone that you sit with. I think.

Speaker: Jason

Robert, our group was really struck by the part of your story where you had to really step back and examine what you would assume to be true. And I think that's such a common thing that supervisees in the field of psychology have to do. I know I had to do that and still have to do that. And the way I'll give credit to Megan Bond for this, but this idea of like a universal truth versus a truth that was downloaded onto me. 

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Yeah.

Speaker: Jason

And what are my assumptions about people and pathology and the change process and people who are different from me. And really having to do that, do that work and sort through what's, what's actual truth versus this truth that I've held for whatever reason.

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Yeah, I'm really glad you said that because it really is an important point that I was hoping that people would understand or pick up on, because there's a huge difference between the real truth and the truth that Megan Bond said so well, that gets put onto us. And it really does happen that life puts these things onto us that don't really belong to us. And pressures and, and critical voices and shaming and all kinds of things that if you begin to really unpack them, they don't hold up very well. You know, you bring some of them out into the light of day and really sorry, and start examining them and they, they kinda dissipate. Shame kinda goes away. Or, you know, at the very least, the volume gets turned down on it. But we have to know to unpack our story and know how to do that and understand with ourselves being our guide. What parts of it really are our truth and what parts of it aren't.

What rings true deep down inside us in what what's something that somebody put on us? You know, I mean, it's, it's a great point. [pause] Alright, well, I think I'll just say thank you all so much for, for your responses. And I want to go ahead and summarize a bit and, and then finish up with one more song. So, one thing that I want to talk a little more in detail about that I've alluded to a couple of times is how I go about beginning supervision with a new supervisee. I always tell my supervisees that I don't believe one size fits all when it comes to supervision. I'm sure after 30 years, there are things that I say somewhere along the way to each supervisee, but I always want to approach it from trying to meet them where they're at. So in that sense, I like my old, Mike Doherty's idea of sort of, sort of, sort of starting with a blank slate, not making assumptions about this supervisee or where this person is at based on where the previous supervisee was at or whatever. So, we will spend the first 3-4 weeks of our two hour supervision block, a good part of it, just really listening and connecting with each other. Just really trying to engage as best we can in understanding each other's story, knowing a bit about where our joys and sorrows are, where our struggles are, where we find peace and connection.

You know, I love to know if someone really finds a lot of peace in a walk along the beach or in watching a beautiful sunrise. It tells me a lot about, about that person being, being tuned into that bigger part of themselves. It's bigger than our struggles, if you will. But we take the time to build a relationship that will serve us really well later on down the road as we begin to try to build on what that supervisee already has. There's no one that I've ever seen get gets to internship without bringing some skills with them. People are at different places in different levels. And of course, we, again, I want to start with where they're at. But everything that we're doing in supervision is trying to grow or enhance or build on what's already there. We're not, we don't need to tear something down or take away pieces that work for that person with their clients. It's very often that we do need to slow down and breathe and really listen and not blow past some important feeling or, or thought that is worthy of our attention. So, one of the real challenges that supervises face is there's so much to juggle, right? You're trying to listen to what the client is saying. You're trying to listen to what you're feeling inside, you're trying to formulate the next response that you're going to make, you're trying to figure out, Is it time to maybe self-disclose something or take a risk that makes me a little more vulnerable? And if I do that, what's that going to mean for our relationship? And it is it really going to be helpful because I don't wanna do anything that's not helpful. Right.?

As, as with my client, I'm here to try to try to help. That said though, you know, it's kinda like building a skill with a musical instrument or learning to ride a bicycle. The more you do it, the more the pieces start to come together and it becomes a little more automatic and gets a little easier to sort of listen with that third ear, which is your feelings and your reactions and process what the client is saying and intuitively get an idea of how to respond. I think that unfortunately, most training programs don't do much to help new clinicians learn to respond from their, from their gut, from their intuition, from what's happening inside them. You don't, if I'm sitting with someone and I suddenly realize that my energy level has dropped and frankly, maybe I'm feeling bored, I'm not going to sit there and say to the client, "God, you're boring me", you know. How is that going to be helpful or useful to clients? It's going to probably feel bad and ashamed and maybe feel like they need to defend themselves. But what, what I am going to say is, " wow, you know, as you were talking and I kinda realized that we sort of kind of heard a lot of this story before I kinda realized that, for me at least, the energy level sort of dropped. I kinda feel a bit less connected with you at this moment. And I wonder if you feel that too? And if so, if we can maybe explore what's going on with that, and if not, maybe we can talk about maybe what's going on with me.

You know that it's making me feel, feel that that energy drop and how might we, how might we work with that and move forward with that? I really can't think of much of anything that isn't grist for the mill when it comes to working with a supervisee or working with a client. I think that we can use almost anything that that that gets presented to us to help the person in some way. You know, even, even when we're feeling stuck, that's when we really need to dig in and listen to our truth and try to understand why we're feeling, what we're feeling and how we can use those feelings to be, ultimately to be helpful. But, but there's an art to it. There's an art to being able to reframe those things in a way that someone can hear or in a way that, that really is helpful to someone. And, and we don't learn to do this, at least I haven't, quickly and easily. I'm still working on it, you know, and I've been doing it for 30 plus years. And I think there's no there's no expectation really that it should be otherwise.

I should always be working on it, especially if I really am true to my statement that I'm going to try to meet every supervisee where they're at. And of course, in many ways it's each, each new experience is going to be, is going to be new and challenging in different ways. And that's, that's the way I want it. And, you know, I'd be have to be totally honest and say that I'm sure that I've learned way more from my supervisees over the years than they've learned from me. But that's what's really cool about it, is we all learn, we all grow, we all change together. I'm going to do one more song to finish up here. And this is another Kris Kristofferson song. I really want to thank Kris for being the great songwriter and influence that he has been on me, literally, throughout my life since I was a teenager. [one guitar strum] So this song I think, really does a great job of kind of demonstrating the idea through song of how connection and kindness just really spreads from person to person. And you all can say, you all can be happy that I'm not gonna make you break this one down line by line like we did the last one. We're just going to do the song and then thank you and turn it back to Jason. I'll be I'll be finished at that point. Here we go.

[guitar strumming] [Dr. Carter sings]

Speaker: Dr. Carter

The scene was a small roadside cafe. The waitress was sweeping the floor. Two truck drivers drinking their coffee, Two Okie kids by the door. “How much are them candies?” they asked her. “How much have you got?” she replied. “We've only a penny between us.” “Them's two for a penny,” she lied. And the daylight grew heavy with thunder, with the smell of the rain on the wind. Ain't it just like a human? Here comes that rainbow again.

[strums, then key changes to minor]

Speaker: Dr. Carter

One truck driver called to the waitress after the kids went outside. Them candies ain't two for a penny. So, what's it to you? she replied. In silence, they finished their coffee. They got up and nodded goodbye. She called, Hey, you left too much money. So, what's it to you? they replied. And the daylight grew heavy with thunder, with the smell of the rain on the wind. Ain't it just like a human? Here comes that rainbow again.

[minor chord strums]

Speaker: Dr. Carter

Thank you all so much for your time and your attention and your participation. It's been an honor to be able to spend time with you this morning. Thanks a lot. And I'll turn it back to you, Jason.

Speaker: Jason

Thank you, Robert. I see all sorts of applause popping up on the screen. Just really appreciate your transparency and inviting us into your story and how it shaped you and shaped you as a supervisor.

[Music]