Am I ready to Supervise?


This is a question I am often asked. Qualified counsellors and psychotherapists want to progress and add a different dimension to their working life. Developing a supervision practice alongside our client practice gives a variety and alternative, creative and nourishing way to work. It can enhance our own practice and that of others and it is a real pleasure and honour to hear the work of other professionals and to support them in their own development.

But when is the right time to move on in to supervision?

This is an interesting question and I do not have a definitive answer but I have some ideas of things to consider.
Some practitioners just go ahead and set themselves up as supervisors, but supervision is a different discipline from counselling and psychotherapy. Having worked in this industry for 25 years I would highly recommend that you undertake good quality training in supervision before embarking on it.

Supervision is not about giving answers. Good supervision is about facilitating another practitioner in their own professional development. Supervisors hold a professional responsibility for themselves, their supervisees and the clients. As a supervisor you need to adapt the way you work to the developmental level of the supervisee. Many of the areas below will be covered on the course but are things for you to consider.

The first area is your own competence and experience. You will never have experienced all issues and all clients, you will not know every theory and method but do you have a sense of your own competence as a practitioner and have you worked with a wide range of clients. Are you potent enough to work with other professionals who may be more experienced then you?

What is your level of self-awareness like? In supervision, as with therapy, it is very important to be able to reflect on our own process, relationships and what is going on for the supervisee. In my view this journey is never complete and competent, ethical practitioners make a commitment to their own personal development to enhance every area of their work.

Do you have a good understanding of ethics and ethical tensions? Are you willing to confront bad practice and to enter in to conversations that can sometimes be uncomfortable? Are you willing to keep up to date with relevant changes to affect our work? Do you have a clear understanding of professional boundaries and are you willing to uphold these?

Can you be flexible in your work and adapt your style to the different developmental levels of your supervisees? Are you willing to be flexible and honour and encourage someone else’s way of working even when it may be very different from your own? Supervisors often work across different modalities and need to be able to facilitate another’s thinking and practice.

Often supervision is done in groups as this is a very effective way of developing and supporting practitioners. Are you comfortable leading groups and do you understand group dynamics?
Do you have humility? Are you willing to be open and congruent about your mistakes? Are you willing to enter into a dialogue with someone else on a professional level about these things?
And finally do you have the time, money, resources and motivation. Supervision courses are not as long as counsellor/psychotherapy training and it is important to consider the practicalities. Do you have good ongoing professional support and, of course, do you want to supervise?

Supervising other professionals can be exciting, moving, challenging, inspiring, frustrating, and fun. We need to sit with others and celebrate their successes as well as support them in their shame and doubt. The supervisory relationship is very different from the client relationship as it is two professionals working together and generally the contact is monthly rather than weekly.
I have been supervising for 17 years and personally I love supervising and witnessing the amazing work that other professional are doing with a wide range of clients. If you want to know more about our Diploma in Supervision which starts in January 2017.