Who Needs Psychotherapy Supervision?
Psychotherapy supervision is for accredited counsellors and psychotherapists, pre-accredited therapists and students undergoing training courses in professional counselling and psychotherapy.
The primary goal of psychotherapy supervision is to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy/counselling through the growth of the therapist and the development of their skills.
Psychotherapy supervision also protects against burnout and stress. Burnout comes from being overloaded and the onset of ‘compassion fatigue’. So psychotherapy supervision is a restorative process to replenish emotional energy through debriefing and emotional containment. It is a space to discuss difficulties, both the supervisees’ and their clients, without fear of disapproval or judgement.
Like with a client, ground rules are established and lines of responsibility clarified regarding how a supervisee prepares for a session; ensure client needs are addressed and to recognise when personal issues are intruding on the work.
The supervisor’s job is to create a space that will enable the supervisee to find their own style of being a therapist. The space is the heart of the process that helps the supervisee gain insight and find their own solutions and explore the unknown. A space to explore fantasies, hunches and feelings. This allows the supervisee step back from their work and see the themes. It also allows them to move between experiencing and reflecting.
Most importantly, supervisor and supervisee look at the ‘parallel process’: where the relationship dynamics between client and therapist appear in the supervision room. The supervisee literally, but unconsciously, acts like the client to show the supervisor what is happening in the relationship. The origin of this is from our own childhood and mimicry at play. It is the supervisee’s out of character behaviour that really shows who the client is.
This process externalises the client for the supervisee and he/she can look at the client with fresh eyes and a sense of where the therapeutic relationship needs to go.
All parts of this psychotherapy supervision process are regularly reviewed so a clear development is maintained. Mutual feedback is encouraged as well as a look at strengths and weaknesses on all sides, including the supervisor.
For a wider description of how therapist supervision works, and to see my own availability for supervision, check out http://www.thomaslarkin.ie/counselling-supervision-dublin/