I have a supervision practice in Twickenham and really enjoy this aspect of my practice. In supervision as in therapy, I work with the relationship – between you and your client and between us. I’ve written some more on my thoughts about supervision and how I think it should work below. If you read on and are interested in working with me, give me a call or email me to arrange an initial meeting.
Supervision as I see it.
One year after I qualified, I wrote an article for Therapy Today about the transition from student to therapist, which I saw as a step from the safety of learning to a new uncharted landscape of private practice. In this article I wrote
“With hindsight I would say that the most stabilising aspect of the transition
was my relationship with my supervisor.”
At that point in my career, supervision was my safe base, the place to go back to for reassurance, safety and help as I began to make my way in my new world. In the years since, it has continued to be this, but also much more as I and my practice evolved. Now I bring the learning of this to my own practice as a supervisor.
So, how do I see supervision?
First and foremost I believe that it is the quality of the therapeutic relationship which makes therapy effective and supervision is no different. The supervisory relationship needs to be one in which the practitioner feels able to bring all aspects of their work, even, or in fact especially the areas they feel they have struggled with. I know that I learn best through doing, and I learn the most from my mistakes. I can’t do this with a supervisor who is not accepting, empathic and supporting, as well as challenging. For this reason, clinical supervision within a management hierarchy has not worked well for me as the lines between the two are blurred and makes openness difficult – for both parties
I mentioned challenging – just as in therapy, there is no room for compliance in supervision. The practitioner who parrots what their supervisor says is not growing in their practice and cannot be authentic with their client. The supervisor who complies with a practitioner at best stymies their development, and at worst is unethical. Because yes, the supervisor (defined by the BACP, my professional organisation) has a responsibility to “ensure standards; enhance quality and creativity; and enable the sustainability and resilience of the work undertaken”. It sounds like a daunting responsibility, but I am encouraged in this by the idea that I am a part of what my supervisees have in their practice to manage their own fitness to work and that our sessions are part of what allows their internal supervisor to grow. Because as the BACP also says “When supervising qualified and/or experienced practitioners, the weight of responsibility for ensuring that the supervisee’s work meets professional standards will primarily rest with the supervisee”
Note the use of “qualified and/or experienced practitioners”. Because, as I observed at the start, we don’t leave training and overnight become fully functioning, expert practitioners, (we should be wary of ever thinking of ourselves as expert, we all need to keep learning). A supervisor needs to be aware of where the practitioner is in their own practice, and that their needs vary according to their experience, knowledge and competence.
And on learning – the more experienced I become, the sharper my understanding of what I don’t know, and the clearer the opportunities to learn are. Supervising practitioners is a part of this learning – if I can be as present and reflective as I ask my supervisees to be, I have the chance to learn about them, their client and myself.
Supervision involves a lot of administrative tasks as well – record keeping, contract setting, accreditation help etc etc, but outside of those necessary, but perhaps more prescriptive tasks, these are my thoughts about what I need to do to supervise practitioners.