The topic I most discuss with supervisors and supervisors in training, is how the supervisor can truly gauge the supervisee’s interactions, skill level and internal processing (my words) of client sessions.
How do you know if the supervisee “gets” this work with clients?
We all know the typical evaluative tools used, from direct observation to case consultation. And we know to encourage openness and vulnerability, right? Of course we encourage our supervisees to bring their “hardest cases” to us. And then we wonder if they will do that. And we wonder if the glimpse of sessions they bring forth in recordings or progress notes truly captures the essence of that supervisee’s work with clients. We sit in on a session, or view through a one-way window or virtually sit in the room and hope that this slice of work is or, in some cases is NOT representative of the therapist’s rapport with clients.
But how can you do a deeper dive with your supervisee to really hone in on process rather than just ticking boxes and following agency/insurance regs? Sure, all of that is important, but what can we do as supervisors to really grow our supervisees? We can never fully know, but we can zoom in closer.
I am a firm believer in personal AND professional growth and as therapists, the two are often intermingled. No, we don’t expect clinical supervision to turn into therapy but allowing personal awareness and intentional personal growth into the supervision space grows EVERYONE, in my opinion- the supervisor, the supervisee and the client. It’s all about inviting the supervisee’s growing edge into the room.
Homework is NOT a dirty word!
But is this even feasible, given the fast-paced nature of many mental health settings? Yes. It’s called homework. When we finish our studies, our studies aren’t over. Ever. So I let my supervisees know there will be between session “work” that must be submitted before the next meeting. I assign my case consultation form each week that offers many reflection points regarding a specific client. I may randomly choose the client I want the supervisee to focus on for that week, and I also give the supervisee the opportunity to choose a client from their roster most of the weeks. The goal is to complete one case consultation form per week followed by a discussion in the next supervision session. The supervisee should expect that the case consultation form will take about an hour for reflection and write-up. Of course, in the beginning, the exercise may take longer. I ask that the case consultation form be submitted at least 24 hours prior to our scheduled session so that I have time to review.
There is a learning curve when actually doing the work of therapy, coupled with learning about the interpersonal self. I believe that writing out the process in conjunction with talking it through, gets down to the bones. This (the writing) is a form of tactile experiencing that, coupled with conversation, deepens the supervisee and supervisor’s sense of knowing where the client is concerned. And this process allows for richer connection and empathy.
Yes. This takes time- more time for both parties. But in the long run as a supervisor, you will save time and worry knowing where you can grow your supervisee and where you supervisee is already blooming.
Just email me if you would like a copy of my Case PREP for Clinical Supervision Form.
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