Stepping back to step back in

Supervision. A word that used to fill me with confusion and at times anxiety. What do I say?  How do I react? What are they thinking?  Am I saying the wrong thing? Is this topic supervision-worthy? These were just some of the thoughts that used to swim around in my mind before and after the session.

As an NQP I stepped into my first role as a practicing therapist with trepidation but a desire to prove myself. I had heard about supervision before, however, I did not know what to expect or how to use it. I went to my supervision sessions, I planned for them, I found them useful; however, I didn’t make it my time. I was considerate of the questions I asked, I followed others leads, I avoided topics that I felt I “should” know about and I often came away feeling relieved it was over.

Time continued to pass and although I grew in confidence in other areas of my practice, supervision was always one area of confusion for me. I had supervision with a number of different clinicians; many of whom were fantastic but I still didn’t know if I was doing or saying the right thing.

In September 2016 I went into, what I describe as my supervision free fall. I was working for the first time in independent practice and was struggling to find the right support for this new venture. Previously I had supervisors assigned to me, so to now have a choice was an interesting dynamic and one I wasn’t quite sure how to manage. I was making contact with various supervisors; but when you still don’t know what supervision is, how do you know what you are looking for in a supervision session?

Stepping back.  I was advised to attend the “Are you getting enough (1)?” supervision course run by Cathy and Sam from intandem. I was hoping this course would answer my question “What is supervision?” I definitely learnt that, along with much more.

This course enabled me to learn about various approaches to and types of supervision. There was an element of reflection on past experiences.  I was surprised to discover that a number of people on the course felt the same way about supervision and that my experience was a common story.

One key point that resonated with me was the Facilitation Spectrum by Bee and Bee (1998).  Thinking about supervision in terms of it being supportive, directive or persuasive has allowed me to be more decisive when choosing what kind of supervision is necessary to address my needs at that time. Do I need someone to listen, ask me questions or give me advice? This decisiveness over my supervision needs and time enables me to effectively benefit from the session.

Stepping back in. Since being on this course I have made significant changes to my supervision.  I am taking more ownership of this time, trying to make it a priority, discovering new types of supervision (group and peer) and generally enjoying it. I can see the effect moving through my clinical and managerial practice as I deal with current and relevant situations.

Supervision. A word now that makes me feel calm and rejuvenated. When is my next one?    Do I want directive advice about this? Is this managerial or clinical?

My supervision journey is far from over and there are still many more things to learn, however, now I feel equipped to do so.

Naomi Young
Speech and Language Therapist