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Thinking about supervision
Supervision provides an opportunity for practitioners to share and seek to resolve practice uncertainties. Additionally, it has a sometimes-overlooked function as a place to recognise, consolidate and augment what is going well in practice. Practitioners will use supervision in this way, as a place of sanctuary and for meta-practice, when they perceive there are conducive conditions. Effective supervision can help practitioners to feel secure in practice and for this reason, we can regard supervision as the cornerstone of professional and public safety; when professionals feel secure in practice, we, the public can be confident about our care.
Agreeing what we mean by supervision
Policy and guidance often encourage the use of a supervision agreement or contract; who will meet, how often and so on. Before we can have a supervision agreement, it’s useful to check with one another what we understand by the word ‘supervision’. This can be a good starting point for supervision training or a new supervision relationship but it’s just as important in established supervision to check or revisit our understandings and expectations.
Supervision and other possibilities for personal and professional support
It’s also helpful to think about how supervision is similar or different to other activities such as mentoring, coaching and psychological support or counselling. In essence, to agree what supervision is not, what the boundaries are and when something else, such as staff support or counselling, might be a better fit for the practitioner’s presenting concerns. Again, this can be tricky, because we may have different experiences and assumptions about these other activities too and the lines can be blurred because supervisors may use skills and techniques that are common to all these practices.
Ideas for exploring the meaning of supervision
- Sharing how previous experiences of supervision shape understanding and expectations
- Thinking about definitions of supervision
- Thinking about models of supervision
- Thinking about how supervision is similar or different to other education and professional support practices
Exploring how previous experiences of supervision shape our understanding and expectations
This is a perfect moment to use your postcard collection as described here
You can use postcards in one-to-one and group settings, face-to-face and remotely, to gather insights about colleagues’ previous experiences of supervision. You can ask colleagues/students/participants/supervisees to select images that will tell someone else about their supervision experiences; good, less good, student, early career, later career, leadership experiences, research experiences and so on.
Exploring different definitions of supervision
- It can be useful to explore our definitions of supervision for:
- Personal critical reflection, either as a supervisor or a supervisee
- Exploring the supervisor and supervisee expectations at the beginning of a supervision relationship
- As a group activity in supervision training and development or in-service training
This worksheet provides some guidance about exploring definitions of supervision for personal reflection, supervisor/supervisee discussion or as a group activity:
Defining Supervision Activity
To return to other ideas and resources, follow the link below: