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Supervision could be loosely defined as more experienced therapists helping less experienced therapists become better therapists. I like too, the definition given to me by a colleague: "Supervision is the bit you can't get in books, in your own life experience, or your own treatment, in clinical practice, or on the courses."

"It seems that whatever approach or method is used, in the end it is the quality of the relationship between supervisor and trainee therapist (or counsellor) that determines whether supervision is effective or not…

“There needs to be a degree of warmth, trust, genuineness and respect between them, in order to create a safe enough environment for supervision to take place"

(Hunt, 1986: 20)

Supervision provides a container where the supervisee can be supported, validated, inspired and challenged in order to promote growth. It is also an arena providing the teaching of skills and theory, providing models and understanding. A place to check diagnostic “hunches" and formulate treatment planning, strategies and interventions. The supervisee's practice is monitored, thus ensuring the safety of both client and therapist. Finally it is a situation in which the supervisee can ventilate the frustrations of dealing with some of the more difficult clients.

When what happens in the room between supervisor and supervisee is openly negotiated, reviewed and available for comment by both parties, their primary work of supervision, the bringing of clients, happens in a much more productive and fulfilling way. A good working relationship has to be created so that it becomes safe to bring any issues.

There are many reasons to be pro-active in getting good supervision for ourselves, many of which are mentioned in previous paragraphs. Supervision is a central form support, it also forms part of our continual learning and development as therapists. Good supervision can facilitate us to use our resources better, manage our work load and challenge our inappropriately patterned ways of coping.

"Many helpers when they themselves are suffering, are incapable of accepting support, or at least of receiving easily. Yet they may be impatient with those they're working with for not accepting aid or counsel readily enough. Chances are, if you can 't accept help, you can't really give it".

(Ram Dass 1985)

If you do not have enough support, you absorb more disturbance, distress, stress and dis-ease from your clients than you are able to process and let go of. It is very important as therapists that we take responsibility for noticing the signs that our systems are overloaded; and that we ensure that we get the support we need to deal with this emotional pressure. This support comes in the form of supervision, and/or personal therapy.

There are complex motives for wanting to work in the helping/caring professions. If we are aware of what Jungians call our shadow side, we will have less need to make others into the parts of ourselves we cannot accept. Supervision will bring into awareness this countertransference that can for example, bring to our work a need to redeem the wounded child; so that every person that comes to us for help can be our own hurt wounded child needing its wounds bound up by good parental care. Or the reverse, we still may be the wonderful child that would lead the parents out of their mistaken ways. It is not our needs themselves that get in the way being effective therapists, it is the unawareness or denial of these needs that can be costly, particularly the needs in relation to support.

My Approach to Supervision

I am an experienced, qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist. I have an integrative approach to both supervision and therapy. I use Transactional Analysis, Psychodynamic, Transpersonal, Humanistic, Person-centred, Gestalt, NLP and Energy-based meridian Psychotherapy (including EMDR) methods.

I am trained in, and utilise a number of different models of supervision, including those proposed by, Hawkins and Shohet, Holloway, Carroll, Clarkson, lnskip and Proctor, Heron, Zalcman and others. Supervision has many aspects, central to which is the relationship. Good supervision takes into account all the differing aspects as they become appropriate, and as shown in the diagram below:

What Is Counselling Supervision ?

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1996 Mindscape Limited

Designed By David Lloyd-Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred) INLPTA

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