'Supervision is a formal arrangement for therapists to discuss their work regularly with someone who is experienced in both therapy and supervision. Whatever the chosen format, the supervisory relationship is at the heart of effective supervision (Millar 2007; Stafford 2008). The supervisor’s goal is “to do whatever seems most likely to send the other person away more aware, more informed, skilled and encouraged than she was when she came in.'
BACP Information sheet
Counselling Supervision is independent of any line-management supervision a practitioner may have.
For over ten years I have been offering supervision to counsellors. I work with person-centred therapists, and also to those from other theoretical backgrounds including Cognitive-Behavioural, Psychodynamic, and Integrative therapies. My approach to supervision involves an active encouragement for you to find, develop, and sustain the way of working that best suits your skills and personality. Over the years I have worked with newly qualified and experienced practitioners as well as with students. I was for many years an approved supervisor on the University of Strathclyde's postgraduate programme in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Supervision is a particular kind of professional conversation. The supervision I attempt to offer is inspired by Tony Merry's idea of a collaborative enquiry, Keith Tudor and Mike Worrall's encouragement to think, question, and roam imaginatively, Elke Lambers' emphasis on the developing and congruent humanity of the therapist. I am also influenced by Brigid Proctor's descriptions of the 'normative, formative, and restorative' functions of supervision, and by Michael Paterson's facilitation of values-based reflection.
Supervision offers a regular opportunity to reflect on your work with clients; to celebrate what is going well and to pay attention to those things which are possibly not. It aims to support well-being and safety of practitioners and clients, and is increasingly viewed as an important safeguard for the public. I attempt to listen 'without agenda' as Ernesto Spinelli puts it, in order to allow you to look at things holistically. Through this, my task is to support you to 'hear' and experience yourself more fully, in order for you to be able to meet, understand, and respond to your clients more fully.
In supervision, significant time is spent looking at specific aspects of client work (sometimes described as 'case work supervision') including the central importance of the developing relationship. Time is also spent looking at how your work is affecting you, and perhaps at how your wider life is affecting your client work for good or ill. Other areas of exploration may include:
Supervision is your time to explore the issues of importance to you in a respectfully supportive and challenging environment. Whilst it shares many features with therapy, its significant difference is that the meetings are ultimately at the service of your work and your clients. The areas outlined above are therefore always 'on the menu'.
Many supervisors ask you to sign a contract for working together, as a way of clarifying the working agreement. Not being happy with the legal connotations of this word, I do not. Instead I have produced an information sheet about working together called Preparing the Ground. In conjunction with the information on this page, this forms the basis of our work together and I will check that you are in agreement with it.
'(Time to) ... reflect, to think, and to question; ... to be curious, critical, and creative.'
Tudor and Worrall
'The function of the supervisor,
then, is to create an atmosphere
that will enable the supervisee to find his or her own style of being
a therapist. By doing so, the supervisor also models the growth-promoting environment of congruence, acceptance, and empathy.'