When I was completing my MSW program and acquiring hours toward licensure, I was sometimes frustrated by supervisors who liked to analyze clients or talk theory but offered very little in terms of practical solutions.
I strive to be the kind of supervisor I would like to have had by doing the following:
- Suggest clear intervention strategies that supervisees can readily apply.
- Present multiple intervention options so supervisees can choose the approach that best suits the client and best fits within their own style.
- Address counter-transference while maintaining appropriate supervisor/supervisee boundaries.
- Discuss DSM-5 diagnoses as needed.
- Create an environment in which those I supervise are free to be honest and make mistakes, and feel safe in doing so.
- Discuss expectations on both sides, which augments freedom and creates a sense of safety within the supervisor/supervisee relationship.
- Enhance this feeling of safety by encouraging supervisees to have a sense of humor and by having one myself.
- View supervision as a collaborative process, using inquiry and discussion to promote discovery.
- Recognize in group supervision that the group’s knowledge and wisdom is greater than any one individual’s, including my own.
I am approachable and personable, while still encouraging high quality work from those I supervise. My open, non-threatening personality, flexibility and sense of humor help me create a safe environment. I relate in a friendly, light-hearted way rather than as a distant authority figure, and I am committed to the success and professional development of those I supervise. The things I emphasize most strongly in supervision are self-awareness, ethical practice, development and awareness of one’s own clinical style, creativity and humor. That last one may surprise some, but I’ve found that humor is important both in work with clients and in supervision. I like to provide multiple practical suggestions so the supervisee can choose the ones that best fit her/his personal style and the client. I also emphasize the importance of self-care, both for supervisees and clients.