WHAT IS SUPERVISION?
Our understanding is that you, as supervisees, come to supervision with a history of supervision: if not an actual experience, then with some ideas or assumption about. You will have, already, an understanding or concept of what supervision should be or should not be – either from direct experience or from hearing others talk about it, or from the assumptions you make from hearing and using the term ‘supervision’. It is important that you come to an agreed understanding with your supervisor about what supervision means.
Here are five definitions of supervision:
1. “Supervision is a regular, protected time for facilitated, in-depth reflection or clinical practice.” (Bond and Holland, 1998)
2. “Supervision is a working alliance between to professionals where supervisees offer an account of their work, reflect on it, receive feedback, and receive guidance if appropriate. The object of this alliance is to enable the worker to gain in ethical competency, confidence and creativity to as to give the best possible service to clients.” (Inskipp and Proctor, 2001)
3. “Supervision is the construction of individualised learning plans for supervisees working with clients.” (McNulty, 2003)
4. “Supervision is a place of trust where a healthy relationship gives me a safe place to acknowledge and work with my clinical concerns, stresses, fears and joys.” (Johnson, 2003)
5. “When a person consults with a more ‘seasoned’ and experienced practitioner in the field in order to draw on their wisdom and expertise to enhance his/her practise, then we would call this process supervision.” (Gilbert and Evans, 2000)
When we take elements of these definitions together supervision emerges with a number of features:
1. To ensure the welfare and best-quality-service for clients
2. To enhance the personal and professional development of supervisees through ongoing reflexivity that results in advanced learning.
3. To gate-keep and monitor those who wish to enter and remain within their professions
4. To benefit from the input of others as this applies to our work
5. To draw on the wisdom and experience of another
6. To build in accountability for the quality of the supervisee’s work at all levels and to offer assurances to those who need to monitor that accountability
ELEMENTS IN SUPERVISION
A number of elements go to make up supervision which include:
A) A Forum For Reflection
Supervision is the forum where workers reflect on their work and learn from that reflection through their interaction with another who takes on the role of the supervisor. We will look in some detail later on what reflection is and how supervisors facilitate reflection.
B) A Forum For Accountability
Supervision is a process where client’s cases are presented and the supervisee’s work with them is monitored, considered, reviewed, dissected with learning being brought forth. It is also a process of accountability where ethical and professional issues are considered and stakeholders in the supervision process (clients, organisations, professional associations and those who pay for the work) are assured that quality is being maintained.
C) The Focus Is On Experimental Learning
Experimental Learning is the type of learning most appropriate to supervision. Not the only type but the one most often used. Supervision is built on the reflection/action model where practise of counselling/psychotherapy becomes the vehicle for learning. The Experimental Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984) comprises of four stages (see diagram):