Last week I was listening to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. A chef with Michelin stars by his name was describing his passion for cooking for the displaced. Jose Andres described how his non-profit had gone into Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria and cooked thousands of meals for survivors (read his book We Fed an Island). In my mind I could imagine this magnificent cooking machine where trained chefs would train other chefs to train volunteers who would then have the responsibility for cooking meals for the needy. “I must do this!” I thought. Then I realized; I already do.
When I decided to supervise interns, I accepted the responsibility to teach an apprentice my skills. Sometimes I was Emeril Legasse and we would laugh and enjoy our time; sometimes I was Gordan Ramsey and my trainee would leave my office in tears. Regardless of my methods, when I signed on the dotted line, I was confident that the counselor I trained would go on to serve his or her community and do good work.
Supervising interns led to my decision to train licensed professional counselors to supervise. Thirty-five cohorts later I look back and realize (if we follow the metaphor) I have trained hundreds of cooks to train other cooks to serve meals to countless communities. The number of people served is mind-boggling! Still I want to do more. I want to teach supervisors to provide their own counselor supervisor training.
Let’s do the math. One training creates five new supervisors. Those five supervisors take on two interns each. Those ten interns each take on a caseload of twenty clients per week for eighteen months. And since they won’t see the same twenty clients for the entire eighteen months, let’s guesstimate that each intern will impact five hundred individuals and families over the course of their internship via individual and group counseling. Check my numbers, but that sounds like five thousand people impacted by a single supervisor training.
That is why I must teach you to train others. I must teach you to go beyond supervising interns and make the leap to train counselors to become supervisors. This will require skills that look more like opening a restaurant than counseling a client, but you can do it. There is no end to disasters, loneliness, grief, and war, so why stop with just serving a small group, or one community? Let’s go save the world, one meal at a time.