Supervision is an essential part of clinical practice. All registration and accreditation bodies require us to have supervision as part of maintaining standards. Whatever your theoretical background and approach to your practice it is important to have space to reflect upon and think about the clinical work that you are doing. This helps to ensure that you maintain a good and safe practice for your patients and other clients.
Clinical practice can be demanding on us as therapists. There will be many occasions when it is hard to make sense of the therapeutic process that is unfolding with our patients. You may have concerns that range from the safety of the people you are working with through to your ability to understand what is going on. You may feel distressed or exhausted by the work you are doing and feel that you need some support. It is important to be aware of these feelings and so to avoid the inevitable pitfalls and blind spots that are present in our work.
At High View we believe supervision is a space to think and reflect. A space where you can think about the work that you are doing and a space where you can reflect on the process of your work – what is happening and why it is happening now. Supervision is the space between the theory that you have learnt and your therapeutic practice and can offer a benign scrutiny of your professional work.
As I have worked with children, young people and their families throughout my career I enjoy supervising people who need time to reflect on the complexity and overlapping systems involved in working with this age group. You will get the most out of your supervision time with me if you appreciate the need to take a broad perspective on your work and are open to thinking about a wide range of interventions. I am likely to challenge you to think through your formulation or case conceptualisation, and develop your strategies based on what you believe is going on, rather than focussing on intervention “techniques”. Most people I supervise reach the point where they feel comfortable to bring along the challenges of their clinical and professional work, to show their vulnerability and their mistakes. This is, I believe, where we all start to learn about what we are doing.
My approach to EMDR supervision is no different – EMDR is not a technique but a psychotherapy that needs to be based on a good understanding of an individual’s traumas and wider difficulties. However, as an EMDR consultant I will also encourage people to present their work in a way that I can look at their practice and competency in order that I can support them through both Practitioner and Consultant Accreditation with the EMDR Association. EMDR supervision is available on both and individual and a group basis.
My approach to supervision is informed by my training as a Group Analyst and as a Clinical Psychologist.
Group Analysis integrates ideas from three main theoretical sources – psychoanalysis, sociology and systems theory – and attempts to understand the individual, family or team from this perspective. Problems are best understood and worked with via an appreciation of their context. No individual, team or organisation exists in isolation. We all live in groups and in order to understand psychological problems it is important to know the context in which they occur. So, understanding context, and that there are always multiple perspectives on any issue, is critical to making sense of problems and conflicts. I use this framework as the basis for the supervision I offer.
I think it is important to take into account the actual process of supervision – being mindful of the ways in which processes and dynamics present in the clinical material can become reproduced in the supervisory process.
Clinical Psychology has provided me with an understanding of fundamental human psychology – including psychological and neurological development across the lifespan and psychopathology – and has shown me the importance of research and evidence when thinking about psychological problems. In supervision, this means I bring a breadth of knowledge and understanding together with a rigorous approach to issues of assessment and treatment planning. This means recognising the importance of the links between theory and clinical practice to develop working hypotheses and formulations.
If you come and see me for supervision I will want to hear about your clinical practice – the patients and groups that you are working with, the ways in which you work and the issues that arise for you in carrying out this work. We may look in detail at what you say to your patients, how you decide when to say it and why you feel this was the right time to intervene.
The feelings that we have about working with our patients often provide critically important information about the patient and their situation. Supervision with me will help you talk about and understand these feelings and how they can be used in the therapeutic process.