You could call me a supervision junkie. I love it! I always have. To be honest I find it hard to understand those who don’t feel the need for it as for me it is like oxygen. It is one of life’s essentials. Essentially it keeps me, a speech and language therapist of nearly 25 years (very scary!!), breathing deeply and steadily, in the demanding and often surprisingly formidable and sometimes treacherous environments of schools of South London and Surrey. I know that if I did not have regular supervision, I would not have the stamina to continue to be fit to practice and I would have choked under the heavy pollutants of managing unrealistic expectations and negotiating the smoke screens and barriers to providing the best care for my clients. Supervision in all its forms – 1:1 with a supervisor for overview of my work; peer supervision with someone working with a similar client group; group supervision in a wider geographical area; occasional supervision with a specialist in a specific field – I access all and need each.
Supervision is like a filter, it gives an opportunity to sort out the stuff that needs sorting and provides a cleaner, more concentrated view of the contents. Over recent years, I’ve been on the two supervision courses by intandem on “Being Supervised” and “Being a Supervisor”. I have attended a practical course on Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) (Kelly) to improve my problem solving and questioning. Through the Counselling CEN, I’ve attended a Brief Solution Focussed Therapy course and have learnt a lot about active listening by being a member of an Action Learning Set. All of these opportunities have provided me with tools for ‘filtering’ my clinical and supervision work, so that I have a way of looking at things with clarity and with new ideas distilling through from the process.
Here are the top 5 ‘gems’ which I have learnt so far that help me in my role as a supervisor and as a person needing supervision:
- There is always an alternative way of doing things (Kelly, PCP)
- If someone has a problem, ask them what they think could help. It is often easy to forget to do this! (Kelly, PCP)
- Supervision comes in lots of forms, but the 1:1 face-to-face session is the most powerful. To be listened to, properly, without interruption and with the full attention of another person, allows the person being listened to, to think more clearly than you would ever expect. Give this to your supervisees and clients and they will be very grateful. (Action Learning)
- We are what we do! Always find out what sort of supervision history people have had in the past and what they have done. Asking them to draw a timeline of this can be very useful. (intandem courses)
- “What else?” This is a very useful question to ask and opens up a million and one possibilities that might not have come to mind if the question had not been posed (Brief Solution Focussed Therapy)
Final thought: No one likes to be told what to do. Supervision should not be about being told what to do. It can be a very rich and fertile opportunity to grow and be nurtured and do things a different way. I challenge you to give it a try.
B App Sc (Speech Pathology), MSc (Human Communication)
Speech and Language Therapist in Independent Practice
Interests in: Language Disorder, Social Communication and Supervision of Speech and Language Therapy Colleagues.
See my YouTube https://youtu.be/5rZwG7IAzhg