Supervision is the distinctive form of professional mentoring that we’ve developed within the counselling professions and in the Ethical Framework there have been a number of developments that have taken place, and one is that increasingly we have suggested a number of tasks and reviews to be undertaken in supervision that relate directly to the Ethical Framework.
Another new development is that supervisors now are committed to keeping records of the keep, and this records can be minimal it is whatever is supportive of the supervision, but nonetheless there should be record that supervision has taken place, and some supervisors may want to include key points of what’s been discussed.
Another change is the responsibility of supervisees to be open and honest in supervision, to draw attention to any difficulties or challenges they may be facing in their work with clients. The intention there is that supervision should be an environment in which it’s safe to raise difficulties and to discuss them and not to skirt over in order to, for it to fulfil it’s role and supervisors are strongly encouraged to be supportive, particularly in the first instance, and to help the person engage with those difficulties and find appropriate responses to them.
And the other development is that because we can see the value of supervision in our own professions, we’re also keen to encourage its development in other professions, which are dealing either with emotionally challenging communications or dealing with complex relationships, because supervision builds our resilience and supports us in forming a clear picture in what’s involved in that type of work in our own minds and finding the right responses and we can see there are many other professions, particularly in health and social care which could benefit from the use of supervision.
Q1: What are the changes to supervisors’ responsibilities for trainees?
In the previous version of the Ethical Framework, supervisors had a major role in determining whether or not the trainees work was of an appropriate standard and we’ve moved away from that because, our better understanding of the circumstances in which trainees are working and to sort of draw in the available expertise which goes beyond the supervisors, so now supervisors are, commit themselves to collaborating with the other key supporters of the trainee and that includes the, any practice manager, any trainers and anyone else who is directly involved in supporting the trainees work.
Q2: The Ethical Framework suggests that a number of reviews ought to be included within supervision. What is meant by ‘review’?
This is an interesting question because it is clear that some people interpreted review as a thorough going, working through, the whole of some issue or document and forming a view about what was good or bad within it, and that’s not really what we mean. What we mean is, in a more literal sense, looking at something for a second time or another time, and pulling out things that are particularly relevant to the work that’s being undertaken.
So, for example, there are three main areas of review that we recommend, one is looking at where responsibilities to the client rest and where some of those will be led by the practitioner, led by the supervisor or led by a manager, or led by somebody else whose involved in the work. Reviewing any difficulties and how they’re being met within supervision and also periodically to look at aspects of the Ethical Framework and see how they apply to the work that’s being undertaken and whether or not there’s any potential for developing practice in relation to that.
Q3: What do you consider to be the characteristics of good supervision that supports us in being ethical practitioners?
Well supervision at its best is extremely creative, certainly I think people who really value supervision have said actually it’s a space in which they feel they are stretched, they’re challenged and they are supported to rise to the challenge that’s in front of them. So there is a creative element to it, there’s also an element, it’s a place where inevitably we’re dealing with people sometimes at the depths of despair, distress and so on and that carries with it a burden for the person listening and we need to be able to unload some of that and that support element is also there.
And then also, there are genuine issues which we encounter from time to time in our practice, what is the right standard for this? We can sometimes identify what ideally we would like to do, but what’s the appropriate practical standard for this type of work? And when do we recognise that maybe we need to lift the standard of the work we are doing or we are falling short of that standard. And supervision is a place to discuss that in a creative and supportive way, but for me I’ve always found supervision to be a place where I am just constantly learning new things and getting new insights into the work I am doing.