Choosing a supervisor is one of the most important decisions that a Counselling Psychology fresher has to make. Supervisors have enormous power. Power that arises from their role and from their capacity to pass or fail the student. However, they also have a huge influence over the development of the student’s counselling psychological skills and practice. With this power comes responsibility: to the student, to the college, to future employers and to service users both during the placement and throughout the Counselling Psychologist’s career.
I take this responsibility very seriously. I have had a great deal of experience supervising students and I know that when a placement is going well and the supervisory relationship is positive then there is nothing more rewarding and enjoyable for all concerned. However, the converse is also relevant. I.e. Problems and difficulties in the supervisory relationship can be the source of distress all around.
I apologise if this sounds scary. However, it is really important to be aware of the issues that may arise so that we can anticipate and manage them properly. Yes I always use a contract and yes the student always has a good opportunity to contribute to that contract. Yet, simply creating a contract does not always prevent problems arising. I believe that it is the relationship between supervisor and supervisee that determines the success of the practice experience. Hence, my first supervisory task is building this relationship.
I try to take a relaxed approach to my supervisory practice. I like to encourage students to explore and to invest in their own interests as much as possible. I encourage originality as long as it is safe and I am keen to listen to students’ ideas. In fact, the more the student is invested in his or her practice the more rewarding for both parties is the experience of supervision. My students tend to be energetic, bringing live issues to our sessions. I am keen to identify issues of power and consider their influence wherever this may be experienced. I am happy to be challenged myself and to be proved wrong. Equally, I encourage students to consider different viewpoints of practice.
What happens in a supervision session?
Supervision is not personal therapy. Hopefully, supervision includes considerable personal development but usually this will arise through considering content rather than by considering personal process.
I am happy to supervise students who integrate psychological theory and those who wish to develop their practice from a pure model. I focus upon ethics, professional and effective practice. As such, I am happy to encourage students to pursue their own theoretical leanings. Linking theory and practice is very important but I am not precious about one theory above others. Most of the mainstream theories of psychotherapeutic practice have merit and indeed many theories contain conceptually similar features. Depth of knowledge is important, as is a student’s growing skill in applying knowledge to practice. I request that my students seek consent for, and obtain audio recordings of their practice. In this way I am able to offer direct encouragement and pointers. Additionally, I will need to see examples of student’s written work. Again, I will provide written feedback on every piece of work I review.
I hope that this page has given you a flavour of my supervisory style and I invite you to make contact shortly.