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Strategically Inclined Supervisor
What is Supervision
Clinical supervision is an integral part of therapeutic and coaching practice. Supervision is a mandatory requirement of membership to most professional organisations, and ISPA is no exception.
Therapists have an ethical duty to protect their client’s best interests and provide quality therapy. Supervisors can help you navigate difficult clients, and support you personally when your well-being is challenged.
If you are stuck and don’t know what to do with a client, you call your supervisor.
If you feel triggered by a client, you call your supervisor.
if you feel like you are in an ethical dilemma, or are having boundary issues with a client, you call your supervisor.
Why do I need Supervision?
Irrespective of how skilled or experienced you may be, you are inherently working in a very private setting, demanding strict adherence to confidentiality. Therapy is also considered both an art and a science. It is possible to learn the fundamental scientific principles in a school or workshop, but the art of delivering therapy in the real world with real clients does prove challenging.
Clinical supervision involves meeting regularly with a more experienced practitioner to discuss cases, treatment strategies, practice development, and personal impact.
An experienced supervisor is likely to:
- challenge any practices and interventions being used
- Share alternative theories and/or new practices which may be more suitable to the actual case being discussed
- Observe and look out for the mental health of their supervisee – for the supervisee’s benefit as well as protecting the public from poor practices
- Reflect the supervisee about issues such as transference, stress, overwhelm, and burnout. A professional supervisor is likely to notice the symptoms long before the therapist does
- Offer regular feedback regarding the experienced real-world therapy dilemmas
- Provide insight into the therapist’s personal style, as well as offer guidance on how to sharpen their skills or adapt their style to the complex needs of their diverse clients.
How do I get the most benefit from my Supervision?
To get the most out of clinical supervision:
- Remember the ethical boundaries of privacy and confidentiality at all times. Learning how to remain ethical while asking for input or help is a critical skill.
- Choose someone who is an experienced supervisor and who is willing to take a proactive role in helping you to become a better practitioner.
- Decide to work with a supervisor who shares your values and approach to how you set up your therapeutic alliance with your clients.
- Align with a Supervisor who is experienced in treating the issues you hope to specialize in is a valuable asset in extending your skills while deepening your experience.
- Interview your potential supervisor. Talk to them about your needs and expectations of your supervisory relationship, what areas of development you seek, and the nature of the supervisory relationship you want to set up. Include the basics, such as how often you meet, how you meet, costs, and what might be discussed, and do not forget their expectations of you as a Supervisee.
- Proactively engage in the relationship with your supervisor. Bring specific questions and issues to your meetings. Supervisors take the lead in your discussions – and rely on you to bring issues, cases, successes, questions, and even yourself to your sessions.
- Accept feedback, think about it, reflect on it and then decide what to do with it. Being defensive when supervisors give feedback cuts short any benefits you seek from Supervision. Feedback is the most valuable aspect of clinical supervision and one of the only ways we can grow as therapists.
- Maintain your Reflection Journal and your Supervision Log.
Understand the importance of mentorship. A recent study found practitioners rated their supervisor’s mentorship, rather than their education or training, as the most critical factor in improving their performance. Working with someone willing to actively mentor you may offer you significant value.
What happens in a Supervision Session
Each supervisor has their approach to how they supervise colleagues. There is a clear and accepted process qualified supervisors are trained to use. It might be helpful to discuss this process and how it might influence the supervision sessions, particularly the one-on-one supervision sessions.
A supervisor is likely to want to:
- Discuss any recent sessions held, paying attention to how and
why particular theories or interventions were used
- Listen to what is said, including how it is said to detect if the practitioner has been influenced by their agenda rather than the clients.
- Monitor and discuss various issues, for example
1. Is the therapist owning the client’s issues?
2. How does the therapist detach and ground themselves from their clients after sessions in a healthy way?
3. Is the therapist dwelling on a client’s issue
4. Is the therapist getting the appropriate amount of sleep and rest?
5. Is the therapist showing signs of burnout?
6. Are there signs of projection or transference?
7. Is the therapist keeping on top of their administrative tasks?
8. Is the therapist undertaking regular professional development/education? What are they doing with their new knowledge and skill
9. Are the therapists’ business-building skills adequate?
10. Is the therapist’s marketing material adequate and accurate
- consider how privacy, confidentiality, and ethical guidelines are being maintained.