Dr Linda Charles CPsychol, AFBPsS, HCPC Reg
Structured and Collaborative Supervision: Techniques
We all have different learning styles but generally people learn best when they feel safe, supported and when the learning is fun. Supervisees appreciate the variety of techniques available within SACS, empowering them with a range of methods with which to approach their issue. Within the group supervision setting, this promotes creativity, energy and challenges for all. Co-supervisors work hard to help the particular case presenter, with their particular question, within their chosen technique.
Here are a few favourites:
SACS Techniques Descriptions
Advice: CoS own two pieces of advice “If I were in that situation, I might…. On the other hand, I might….” Thus avoiding the P being told what they should do.
Act It: Two empty chairs. The CoS take turns to sit in one of the chairs and address the empty chair, playing themselves but imagining being in the position of the P.
Brainstorming: Fast-paced and plentiful – quantity not quality! This is not ‘thinking out loud’ but short, snappy, uncensored, even outrageous suggestions (minimum 10).
Draw It: Each CoS (including Fac and Sc) represents the situation visually, shares, describes and ‘gifts’ their depiction.
Ethical Review: The CoS are guided in discussion by the Fac to answer:
a/ What? b/ Who? c/ What options for action? d/ Consequences of each option?
e/ What course of action/next step do we recommend?
Feedback: Confirmatory (what seems to be going well?)
and Corrective (what might be usefully different?).
Flip The Question: The meaning of the Q is reversed or turned upside down and the CoS respond to this. eg How do I help Michael to prepare for Supervision? How do I discourage Michael from preparing for Supervision?
In Your Shoes: Empathy not advice! Each Cos ‘becomes’ the P and imagines how they would feel to be in the situation of the P, reporting all their thoughts, feelings, body sensations, images, and intuition. “When I see myself in that situation I feel..., I think..., what comes into my mind….” etc.
Perspective Taking: CoS choose, adopt and articulate alternative points of view of the individuals, aspects of the individuals, objects, systems, elements involved in the case.
Reflecting Team: The P turns their chair around so that their back is to the group. Guided by the Fac, the group discusses the case. The P does not interact at all.
Subjective Reflection: The CoS describe their process (ie feelings, thoughts, images, physical responses, memories) that arose within them whilst they listened to the Case Presentation. Not solutions or advice but what was going on for them.
Summary: Each CoS briefly summarises what they heard and what they saw during the P sticking to description only.
What is THE Question?: The CoS suggest questions that they might choose facing this situation. The P chooses or reformulates THE Q therefore gaining clarity and insight.
By Linda Charles
Preparing for Supervision
Supervision is for supervisees. There is relatively little time spent in supervision. Most people probably do not get enough supervision; it seems that the minimum guidelines are often interpreted to be THE guidelines. Preparation and focus are essential, if we are to use the short time that we have together well. It is my role to help supervisees towards this way of working so that they can own supervision as a personally meaningful experience that replenishes them and enhances their work.
My approach is to empower supervisees and to promote the capacity of the supervisee for self-supervision. They are more likely to get what they need from me if they arrive knowing what it is and I have more chance of being effective if I know what is needed. We cannot explore everything about every issue, or case, in every session so supervisees must spend time in personal reflection, self-supervision, preparing their agenda for supervision in advance. I trust supervisees to know and to tell me clearly what they want.
This way of working can be challenging as much work must happen in between sessions. It communicates that supervision is a time-limited and purposeful activity and it mitigates the potential for the supervisor to hijack the session. It is the supervisee’s responsibility to prepare for supervision and it is supervisor’s responsibility to help supervisees to grow.
What makes a good question for Supervision?
I encourage supervisees to try to personalise their questions so that supervision is not limited to a uni-dimensional case discussion where issues always remain ‘out there’. I ask supervisees to imagine they are asking a 4 year old, of average intelligence, so we avoid convoluted phraseology, ambiguity, psycho-babble and jargon.
10 words maximum
Easy to understand
In helping supervisees to dive into the heart of the matter, I may ask questions like:
What is your anxiety? What’s bothering you? What are you concerned about? What are you scared of?
What’s the question underneath that question?...and now underneath that one? etc
What is your question here? Where are you in this question? What do you need here?
Spending time helping to get the heart of the matter is an important, and challenging, part of the work – sometimes this can take the whole session. It is work in itself as it provides clarity, increased self-awareness and understanding of dynamics.
Time and again, delegates, who attend my courses in supervision, report that this way of working has been a key change in their practice, both as supervisors and supervisees. Getting a good question for supervision really does determine the content and the quality of the work.
By Linda Charles