Reflections on a 1-day commissioned team supervision training

‘Training into Practice – Successful Supervision Re-structure

The intandem ‘Are you getting enough (1)?’ training inspired and informed a reorganisation of our supervision structure. Before the training, we struggled to get a consistent approach to supervision in our small community paediatric speech and language therapy team.  Those that had team leads as supervisors, may also have been receiving supervision from their line manager.  As such, supervision sessions ran the risk of addressing performance issues rather than true clinical supervision. Following the training, where the key aims of professional vs. managerial supervision were clearly outlined and the space to explore and visualise how changes could make a difference was given, we introduced changes with effects which exceeded our expectations.

Supervision in our team is now well defined between, what we are calling ‘clinical’ supervision (i.e. professional supervision) and managerial supervision.

All Band 5 and Band 6 therapists now have a clinical supervisor, who is not their line manager.  This creates a safe space for the supervisee to receive supervision in the true sense of the word.  For example, the opportunity to explore clinical decisions; to be supported to arrive at their own conclusions rather than be ‘lead to’ or ‘told’ the ‘answer’; and to be in full control of what is brought to supervision. The sessions take place every 8 weeks in line with our Trust’s supervision policy.

In addition to clinical supervision, we now all also have ‘managerial supervision’ with our line manager.  This takes place twice a year, during the same week across the team, once in January and once in July. We launched this in January 2020 and have received positive feedback from line managers and supervisees alike.  The aim of the sessions is to celebrate success; identify areas of performance that may need extra support; and check in with therapists in terms of satisfaction in their role.  The outcome of the January sessions has been varied, including identifying focussed pieces of work; guiding service development and service processes; and a clearer understanding of team members’ aspirations. We are still in the process of defining the content of the sessions, however, the start is a promising one as managerial supervision seems to have boosted morale in our already close-knit team.

We highly recommend intandem supervision training.  Cathy’s flexible and bespoke approach, coupled with her experience, knowledge and skill as a facilitator, supported us to explore our current practise and identify and make changes, which had led to lasting service improvements. We plan to ask intandem back to support us to hone our clinical supervision skills as a team and are very much looking forward to it.

Vanessa Gordon
Richmond SLT Early Years Team Lead


Developing confidence as a supervisor

Since qualifying as a speech and language therapist in 2016, I have been lucky that the team I started in (and continue to work in today), value supervision and provide this regularly. I have only had experience as a supervisor for a couple of years and I was eager to develop my understanding of the underpinning models to supervision and build on my coaching toolkit. As a team we also wanted to gain some clarity on supervision and reinforce a robust structure.

I have a strong interest in counselling skills, as these are crucial in supporting my clinical caseload of secondary age students who experience complex social and emotional communication difficulties. Despite developing facilitative coaching skills with students, I realised during the training that I do not always transfer these skills into my role as a supervisor.  I have found myself previously falling into a ‘superman’ trap, whereby I want to be able to provide the answers and reassure other members of staff.

Our discussions and overview of key models of supervision helped me to reaffirm my role as a facilitator and support for supervisees. For example, Gilbert & Evans’ model (2000) and Hawkins & Shohet (2012) model visually place the supervisor as an observer of the supervisees’ process and experience with their clients. Observing the supervisee’s perspective provides an opportunity to support them in developing their reflections and the scope and depth of their own problem-solving skills.

The lightbulb moment for me was when we discussed ‘helicopter skills’ and how the levels of facilitation and types of questions I provide as a supervisor are key in navigating supervisees through their experiences. We can use questions and comments as a vehicle to explore patterns or underlying deeper meanings behind behaviours.

Since the training, I have felt enriched as a supervisor and have confidence in my levels of facilitation to enable supervisees to path their own way.

Sophie Sparrow
Paediatric speech and language therapist