Like any process, supervision may seem mysterious or even a little scary at the outset. It certainly was for me – am I making the right choice? Will I get the benefit I need? Is my supervisor going to laugh at my questions or make me feel stupid for not knowing something? Do I really need a supervisor, anyway?
It’s important to understand that the supervision process is very much a collaborative one, and entirely unique – the supervisor and supervisee both forge the path and develop the flavour of the sessions. However, the session is mostly supervisee led. I also feel it’s beneficial to understand some of the possible content which may be covered in a supervision session.
1. Relating to the Supervisee.
You are the main reason for the session, and my aim is to encourage reflection and expression of your experience with clients. Supervision is a space where you can talk about your clients safely, with ethical boundaries and confidentiality in place. Life happens, and we may discuss your life in the context of caseload, being present, congruent, and building relational depth. The whole person comes to supervision. Not just the worker!
We’ll also explore your personal development, your ‘growing edge’, and workload. We can make space to explore and acknowledge stress, burn-out, fatigue, and fitness to practice. We can identify needs for training and professional development (CPD). My job is to help you be ‘work-ready’ and ‘fit-for-purpose’, ensuring that you are functioning optimally.
2. Relating to the Client.
Your clients are integral to supervision. One of the opportunities in supervision is to explore your understanding of the client’s perspective and experience of the therapy process. This is something we often don’t find time for – to put ourselves in the client’s shoes.
We can think about different ways of responding to the client; understand the client in the context of their culture and build awareness of the impact of cultural difference, power, and privilege in the therapeutic dyad; explore ‘difficult clients’ and what makes them so; and unpack the impact of holidays, breaks, and endings in therapy.
3. Relating to the Supervisor/Supervisee dynamic.
Supervision is a relationship, and some of our content will no doubt address what happens between us. Like all relationships, there are power and status differentials. There is joy and pain, and we will delight and trigger each other at times. My job is to model how to sit non-anxiously in this tension, how to discuss and resolve it, how to acknowledge and repair rupture, and how to move forward with grace, compassion, and energy.
4. In relation to the Supervisee’s professional growth.
We all have parts of self to grow and develop, regardless of length of service, and there are several ways we can explore your development as a clinician. We might listen to audio or video (taken with consent, of course) of you in session – terrifying but so informative! We can explore theoretical underpinnings in support of your work with a specific client. I can recommend relevant readings, conferences, or training events. We can develop a plan for action research and explore ways of expanding your skills and competence.
5. Relating to Accountability.
In the pursuit of your professional duties, there will be professional issues that arise. These may include questions of ethics, co-treatment of a client with other health professionals, directives from government entities and industry regulatory bodies, and legal matters. All of these can be discussed in supervision.
Remember, supervision is an investment in self and in the safety of your clients. It is an opportunity for reflection, wonder, and growth. To discuss this further or to arrange supervision, please get in touch.