Whilst supervision has been a feature of many ‘helping professions’ for a long time, it’s still something which isn’t particularly well known and then benefits aren’t often talked about. Really, we should be considering these from a business perspective as well as those for the person themselves.
If I start from my perspective as a therapist, the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy defines supervision as:
“A specialised form of mentoring provided for practitioners responsible for undertaking challenging work with people. Supervision is provided to ensure standards, enhance quality, advance learning, stimulate creativity, and support the sustainability and resilience of the work being undertaken.”
Reflective supervision (also known as non-managerial supervision), provides me with a protected space for me to work with someone independent to my practice. It’s a place where I’m supported to reflect on my work, look at different ways of exploring the problems, and also to consider the emotional impact. It keeps me safe (and sane!), but it also protects the people I’m working with. Regular supervision ensures that I’m working at my best, and provides someone to give support and challenge to my thinking. Through supervision, I am able to unpack, put down and objectively reflect on my client work. This work is sometimes distressing and not something I wish to take home to family or friends.
Being supported to reflect upon our work, we’re better able to distinguish between our ‘stuff’ and the ‘stuff’ we’re being given by other people in our interactions. Understanding this is vital for us to be able to ‘put down’ that which doesn’t belong to us, and to stay emotionally well and able to do our jobs.
The question I always ask myself is “If not here, where do I put down the burden?” I think this is a really helpful point to consider when looking at supervision for other roles.
You’ll notice that nowhere in the BACP’s definition does it say that supervision should only be for therapists, it’s for those “undertaking challenging work with people”. Supervision is also provided for colleagues working in health and in social care to name a few.
Supporting People Through Challenges
I believe that anyone in a role supporting people through challenging circumstances should have access to a safety valve – a time to discharge their emotions and recharge their energies. This is particularly true for colleagues in education, HR and people leadership roles. If you think about it, individuals in these roles are listening to distressing stories about people’s family circumstances, they are overseeing redundancies or terminations of employment, and they’re the first port of call for any individual struggling with their mental health. As the heart and soul of many organisations, the wellbeing of HR staff can sometimes be forgotten as they push forward with supporting everyone else. The same is true for those working in education, where often the focus is on children’s mental health.
We need to be protecting the wellbeing of these vital roles in our organisations. If they’re not supported to put down the emotional burden, what is the impact for them? Sickness? Presenteeism? A drop in performance? Burnout? Or even Resignation?
I’m sure you’ll agree that this isn’t the impact we want for individuals, but the impacts of sickness or retention in these roles is organisational.
Supervision sessions start at…
Sessions can be offered online or in-person (depending on location).
The time/space should be protected and free from interruptions except for emergencies. I am also able to offer supervision within small groups (6 or less). Prices to be agreed. Supervision should take place at a minimum monthly basis. If you have another arrangement in mind, please contact me to discuss the practicalities of this and whether it is something I can support with.
If you are looking for a supervision package for multiple team members, please contact me to discuss your needs and the associated investment for this.
Functions of Supervision
The functions of supervision vary for each individual and are responsive to the needs of each session, however they can be summarised as:
Focussing on the emotional impact of the individual’s work, and supporting their wellbeing.
Focussing on developing the understanding and skills of the individual, developing their practice or support with managing workload and boundaries.
Supporting the individual to explore and reflect on their work from different perspectives. This also promotes ethical practice, ensuring people are working within their competence.
Supervision is not job coaching, holding you to account for performance management or telling you how to do your job better. It’s not somewhere to come and tell me all the things you’ve done in the past month. More than anything, supervision should not be seen as therapy. You may feel better for having a regular therapeutic space, and we will likely talk about your own wellbeing; however, if I believe there is a need for more intensive support or therapy, I will discuss this with you.
You make seek additional supervision in challenging circumstances, but you should not only seek supervision when there is a problem. Supervision should be a planned, protected, regular space for you to get open and honest, to celebrate your achievements but also to bring and reflect upon your challenges and how they’re impacting you.
By utilising regular supervision, you can prevent burnout, compassion fatigue and reactivity. It can promote resilience and increase your resources, both professionally and personally.
Want to learn more about how supervision can support key roles within your organisation? Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation chat.
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“The coaching sessions I have had with Chrissy over the past few months have been invaluable. The sessions were very timely, as it just so happened to coincide with a very turbulent time in my career. Chrissy was very flexible with the appointments and responding to when things didn’t always go to plan. In terms of the sessions themselves, we covered a range of content, from sharing experiences, problem solving scenarios and also a bit of theory around some of the issues and behaviours I was experiencing. Chrissy has an excellent ability to listen to a (very long) ramble, and pull out how I am feeling in a very concise manner. She helped me to identify exactly how I was feeling, thus gaining clarity about what I need in my career – from my company and from my colleagues. She has taught me skills and mechanisms which are actionable and relevant to my current challenges, and I have very much enjoyed our time together. Thanks so much, Chrissy!!”