I supervise professionals from a number of different health-related professions including social work, psychology, naturopathy, homoeopathy, counselling, dentistry and exercise physiology. I have provided supervision to groups in refuges, sexual assault counselling teams, and Drug and Alcohol teams. For the most part I provide individual supervision.
My orientation to providing supervision for therapists and any other health-related professional is based on the following principles:
- The practitioner always needs to make him/ herself the first object of study. In other words, we need to be willing to examine how we might be getting in our clients’ way whenever we get stuck in our client work. Before we ask a client to change or see them as ‘the problem’, we need to be willing to see how we might be contributing to the client appearing to be unable to change.
- It is our job to find out how what a client is doing in their life makes sense in their world. This is true even if what they are doing is causing them great suffering. I believe this to be a key piece in assisting clients to change. Once we know that, we can look for ways to address this and find better ways for them to meet their needs.
- What we need to help the client make a shift in their situation is available to use right now, in each session we meet with them.
- We need to meet our clients in as authentic a way as we can. That means we need to be real and present in our dealings with our clients, first and foremost, for the relationship to have the best chance of being therapeutic for them.
- To be most effective, respectful and relevant to our clients’ needs. Our clients should not have to ‘fit’ themselves to fit into our theories and models. There are as many different issues and ways of dealing with them as there are people. As such, good therapy needs to be tailored to the client’s needs as they unfold over time.
- My social work roots mean I will always bear in mind the way you and your client(s) ‘fit’ as an ecology of your own. I will always look at the wider socio-political-historical-systemic context both of you come from and live in, gender/ power/ sexuality/ cultural dynamics that might be at play, issues of privilege, issues of race or religion and how these might be coming out in your work.
- Having worked in the helping profession for over 30 years, I am well aware of the risks posed by this work to the practitioner. As such, I have a fierce commitment to self care and I track those who I supervise to commit to their own self care. If providing counselling/ therapy services proves to be damaging to a practitioner’s life, health or relationships then I will make it my business to address that in our supervision. That may mean addressing lifestyle issues, workload, and work/ life balance.