When Cedar Rapids based Mount Mercy College approached Randall Lyle to set up and lead their new Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program, among his specifications for joining their faculty was the new program “had to offer a clinic and it had to be wired for event video.”
Dr. Lyle’s requirement of an observational video system as a key part of this graduate program coincides with the mission of Mount Mercy. The approach of this 85-year-old institution is to provide small, hands on classes for its 1,800 students with meaningful faculty interaction. Starting out as a college founded by the Sisters of Mercy, in 2010 it embarked on an ambitious transformation,
becoming Mount Mercy University.
As part of these changes, Mount Mercy acquired the former U.S. Army Reserve Center to house their new graduate program. Overlooking the west side of Cedar Rapids from a hilltop two miles from the campus, the CRST Graduate Center, which opened for the 2013 academic year offers four masers degrees programs including the MFT program.
The Search for a Better System
The MFT faculty consists of Dr. Lyle along with Dr. Jacob Christenson who is the assistant director of the program. The two conducted the video system search and evaluation. At Dr. Lyle’s former position as clinical director with St. Mary’s University in San Antonio the department utilized video as a teaching tool. His experience with this system provided Dr. Lyle and Christenson with an idea of the improvements they would be looking for in a video system for his new position.
They evaluated two systems on their ease of use and editing/ retrieval capabilities. Based on the features that matched their application and budgetary needs, selected IVS.
Connie Snitker, Director of Technology Operations, with the help of Paul McGinnes, the hardware technician with her department, worked with directly with IVS company president Kevin Marti to bring up the system. As a team they dealt with issues around connectivity, network configuration and the capacity of their servers back at the main campus. McGinnis credited IVS with “responding and coming up with fixes quickly and effectively.”
Training the Future Therapist of Iowa
Mount Mercy offers the only program in Iowa that is training entry-level MFT practitioners, and this clinic is the only Iowa MFT clinic that is fully staffed by student therapists who are under the supervision of licensed MFT therapists. “Our curriculum trains student therapists to look at all components of a relationship, and now the clinic provides an opportunity for students to practice those skills,” says Dr. Lyle. “If a child is having behavioral problems, it may be that the child has a specific problem, or it may be that the child is acting out because, if he acts out, Mom and Dad stop fighting with each other and pay attention to him.”
For the 150 to 200 sessions conducted at MFT clinic during a typical week, the IVS system plays a big role helping students develop these skills. Under the old method, the students produce a case report, telling the supervisor what they saw and did, which can be very subject and relies on the students’ ability to recall. With all of these sessions taking place the supervisor can tag each one with data such as supervisor name, session type, student name and disorder description for rapid future reference using a drop down menu.
Able to Catch Nuance
“It’s hard to read an emotion, so once the student completes the session,” says Dr. Lyle, “we can view the video and review the footage. The review prompts the student’s recall as what was significant at that moment and what the student was thinking.” “We all have filters and the video gives an objective presentation of went on during the interview. The approach creates open dialogue and multidimensionality.” Over a brief period the students discover the system is an important means of improving their professional skills. Dr. Lyle points out that for all students there is a break in period, where “at first they are terrified of being on video, they get used to it and eventually, they love it.” By reviewing the video immediately after the session, supervisors can give direct feed back on how to adjust their interviewing style. Perhaps leaning in more, lowering the tone of voice or changing the pacing of the session for example. Students can look at the video repeatedly to see for themselves right on the screen how to improve their technique. Since this approach removes most subjectivity to the leaning process, the faculty over time improves their coaching abilities as well.
Along with the coaching the students receive from faculty, the user-friendly video system enables them on their own to review their sessions to focus on their technique. Both faculty and students can simply enter keywords to search the library of recordings to find what they are looking for. Students become comfortable with the IVS system’s browser based, easy-to-use software in a short time.
Find it Fast
Throughout the year as students review their sessions they can insert their own markers for the content database search. The play back synchronizes footage from the two interview room cameras. Dr. Lyle estimates that the system enables students to save 50% of their valuable time.
To meeting the needs of this growing university, the IVS system can grow with it. Snitker says that Mount Mercy is considering wiring the campus for video for the nursing school and for school events. “We want to do a better job of coordinating and training, and the IVS enables us to accomplish this.”