How can supervision help and support a supervisee?
Supervision is a dynamic working allegiance between the supervisor and the supervisee. The supervisor will have gained much more expertise and is trained in the field of therapy and supervision to provide a safe and reflective space within which the supervisee can focus on their clients and develop themselves as a counsellor.
In the supervisory space, characterised by involvement and attuned support, the clients’ welfare is focal. Through careful, honest reflection upon the relational process with the client, therapeutic stuck points can be explored and freed up. Equally the supervisor may carefully analyse transactions and interventions to understand more fully the context of the co created therapeutic relationship. As the supervisee uncovers disowned thoughts and feelings in relation to their client work they are freer to see the client as a whole and respond flexibly to the therapeutic task. The aim of reflective work is to support the supervisee to move closer to their client’s experience as well as delving into the unconscious process underpinning the dynamic.
The supervisor will use the supervisory relationship to work through any transference issues and to be attentive to the parallel process. This can provide vital information for understanding missing relational and developmental needs in the client. As this can be both challenging and uncomfortable the supervisory relationship needs to be strong and containing with non judgment and acceptance as its basic tenant. The supervisor needs to be attuned to the learning and development needs and styles of the supervisee and demonstrate awareness of their supervisee. Safety enables the supervisee to take risks, work at their growing edge and bring light to the shadows where ‘mistakes’ can be explored and understood. Requirements for supervisee and Contractual necessity
Working within the supervisee’s process is sometimes described as meta-therapy. That is the therapeutic process of the supervisee - in the supervision in the service of the client work. Like working with a client this needs to be clearly contracted and done in the context of the supervisee having their own therapy where needed. Forming clear contracts with supervisees, as well as producing more satisfaction and better outcomes, also serves as a model of good practise for the supervisee with their clients. (Hawkins P and Shohet R. 2000)
Similarly good modelling is demonstrated through the use of self awareness in the supervisor. It creates a meta-perspective in the supervision where the supervisor can own her own thoughts; body sensations; feelings and fantasies etc, to connect with material that may be out of awareness in the therapy. W hen the supervisee has stuck points it is important they work through them , as in Kohut’s (1984) terms he relates to stuck points as ‘empathic failures’ or ‘ruptures in the therapeutic allegiance’ Safran(1993). Some supervisors may well draw on the practice and theory of a contact orientated relational therapy and inter-subjective theorists such as Richard Erskine (1997), David Wallin (2007) and Safran (1993). Supervision will be enhanced through drawing on various relevant theory and research and thoughtful discussion as to how it integrates into practise. This will benefit the ways the supervisee thinks and feels about the client and subsequently behaves and intervenes with his/her client. Self Care and Ethical Practice
The ambiance of supervision works best when it fosters self support and self care in the supervisee. A supervisory relationship is beneficial when it is warm and validating and helping the supervisee to address their restorative needs. This, amongst others factors such as good training and understanding of ethical practice, means counsellor self care will go a long way towards protection of the client. Counselling supervision is an ethical...
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