The part of the supervision definition that I resonate most with is “the act or function of guidance and care”. Private counselling practice can be isolating and counsellor support is vital so that we, in turn, can support our clients well.
A member of the public/ client may be particularly vulnerable when seeking support and it’s reassuring – for the public and for us – to know that every registered counsellor is connected into a wider network with counsellor supervision.
As counsellors, the work we do can be heavy and it’s good to know that we have solid support. Counseling supervision in private practice addresses several important roles in addition to the formal supervision definition of ‘protecting the public’. The right kind of supervision is a lovely way for experienced counsellors to offer care and guidance to other counsellors who, in turn, offer that same valuable gift to their clients.
Starting a new practice can be lonely and nerve-wracking but with supervision, new counsellors in private practice have a ‘coach’ to help them settle into their own style of counselling and to develop a healthy business/private practice that can support them financially. I remember how much I appreciated having a supervisor when I started out, to guide me on my own journey while I walked with my clients on theirs. I cherish the time I still spend with my supervisors and mentors Mahmud Nestman at his CURA Institute in Vancouver and Carolyn Kornatz on Vancouver Island.
My fees for individual work compare well with those for group sessions and are lower than my client fees. I love working with other counsellors and I see that as a valuable way of giving back to my community.
Counsellor Supervision Philosophy
My private practice counselling supervision philosophy is process oriented in nature and combines person-centered, psychodynamic, solution-focused counselling with cognitive behavioral, mindfulness theories and every other model of counselling I have learned! Neurobiology – neuroscience – fascinates me because so much of what I have instinctively ‘felt‘ – from my own personal experience and from with my clients – is now being researched and confirmed!
My supervision definition allows me to share the experience of client and ethical issues which I’ve accumulated over the last decade or two. Working with other counsellors and helping them focus and grow their careers uses slightly different skills and I get to use my years of marketing and business experience. Debriefing with colleagues in a safe environment is an honour.
I see the clinical supervision relationship as similar to the relationship between client and counsellor in terms of confidentiality and privacy. The creation of a private and safe environment is an important aspect of counsellor supervision, allowing the supervisee to be more vulnerable and to pursue growth with confidence, personally and as professional counsellors. ACCT has a volunteer mentor / mentee group, that I am a part of too.
Encouraging and coaching counsellors, a good supervisor facilitates the ’emergence of innate talent that lies latent within’ the practicing counsellor. Noticing and discussing that natural ability builds confidence which allows trust in the unfolding counselling techniques to blossom.
Clinical supervision is a requirement of most associations and of the new counselling colleges now being formed in Canada. At ACCT new counsellors must log over 1000 hours of client contact and receive a minimum of 8 hours of supervision per year for the first five years of work. Senior counsellors and supervisors are also required to receive a minimum of 8 hours of supervision as well as a minimum of 8 hours of PD (professional development) and a maximum of 8 hours self-directed PD / self-care. It is important to check the requirements of your own association until colleges, such as is being formed by FACT-BC here, in each province ask for congruent standards.
I use a process oriented and integrative approach to supervision. I supervise in person or by Zoom (online, one-on-one, like Skype) which allows me to be flexible in my approach to supervision. Supervision is not restricted by my geography or my approach: supervision is more than just critiquing technique.
Individual supervision is believed to be the most effective type of supervision during the first few years of practice as it’s been shown to foster stronger personal growth and help create healthy private counselling practices. Group sessions – with no more than 6 – 8 participants – can be useful too in addition to individual supervision. This is a similar belief to that found in community mental health centres and in all larger organizations.
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