“As practitioners, we can never know all that we might like to know, nor can we attain all the skills required to effectively intervene with all client populations or all types of problems”.
– Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2007
Professional Supervision is a valued practice that not only helps you to reflect on best practice but more importantly builds your network and increases your resiliency in the industry. When working in helping professions, it is vital that you look after yourself to reduce the impact of burnout and compassion fatigue. It is within the context of supervision that practitioners begin to develop a sense of their professional identity and to examine their beliefs and attitudes regarding clients and therapy.
As in all professions, the counselling practitioner needs to be constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills. Participating in regular ongoing supervision ensures you continue to meet your employment requirements and the continuing professional development requirements of your professional associations. The industry standard is one hour of professional supervision for every ten hours of client contact time.
Professional Supervision is a reflective practice that allows counselling practitioners to debrief with a qualified supervisor in a self-reflective process that focuses on theories in practice, ethical issues, self-care and enhances professional growth. Supervision is a process of ensuring best practice and quality service to our clients. It is widely understood that all counselling practitioners, whether experienced or just starting out, benefit from having regular professional supervision.
Helping Professionals including Counselling Practitioners, Guidance Officers, Social Workers and Psychologists bring their cases and work practices to another person (individual supervision), or to a group (small group or team supervision), and with structured processes analyse the context and approach used while personally developing from the experience.
Discussing cases and processes with a supervisor and receiving non-judgemental constructive feedback enables practising helping professionals to gain an objective insight into their practices. Providing opportunities to enhance professional growth and identify support mechanisms for clients. As critical self-reflection on individual cases is conducted outside of the confines of the counselling session with the client. The aspect of debriefing is an essential element of the supervisory relationship. Thus, enabling the practitioner to look objectively at the issues raised in each session and their response.
People working within helping agencies may have internal supervision included in their employment conditions, but supervision may be overlooked by those working in other organisations or private practice. Often internal supervision is delivered by line managers, and sessions can be bogged down with competing administrative and organisational demands and general discussions not allowing for professional supervision and case review. In these situations, the supervisee may not feel comfortable disclosing vital information during internal supervision out of concern the line manager and employer may judge their practice or not renew their employment contract.
Seeking the services of an external supervisor allows the supervision sessions to be free from workplace politics and restrictions. External supervision allows the supervisee to feel safe and confident providing opportunities for the supervisee to disclose any personal issues and dilemmas as they arise. This mutual relationship of trust and transparency allows the supervisor to identify any potential conflict of interest or ethical concerns before they can develop.
Many organisations see the benefits of external supervision for their staff and often agree to pay for the cost of supervision, allow time-in-lieu, or allow staff to attend appointments during their work hours.
We encourage you to discuss this with your employer, or if you are an organisation seeking this support for your staff, please give us a call to discuss your specific supervision requirements.