The part of the supervision definition that I resonate most with is “the act or function of guidance and care”.
A member of the public/ client is often 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 newer 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 supervisor and mentor Mahmud Nestman at his CURA Institute in Vancouver and Carolyn Kornatz on Vancouver Island.
Counsellor Supervision Philosophy
My private practice counselling supervision philosophy is process oriented in nature and combines person-centered, psychodynamic, solution-focused, with cognitive behavioral and mindfulness theories. Neurobiology – the new neuroscience – fascinates me. Daily I am excited 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 newer counsellors and helping them focus and grow their careers uses slightly different skills to regular counselling. I can also share in the richness of ‘debriefing’ with colleagues in a safe environment.
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. It’s been found to be more helpful, generally, to seek individual supervision and this is the model used by most large agencies. Occasional small group sessions are valuable – ACCT has a volunteer mentor / mentee group, that I am a part of. My fees for individual work compare well with those for group sessions (which I see as another way of giving back to our profession).
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 ten hours of supervision per year for the first five years of work. Supervisors are also required to receive ten hours of supervision. As yet senior counsellors are not required to be supervised although many senior counsellors have a supervisor too. It is important to check the requirements of your own association until colleges 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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