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Nov 2014 by PCI College

Supervision: The Hammock of Support for Clinical Work

Colm Early, PCI College Lecturer, Client Work Coordinator and Supervisor writes about the vital support that supervision can give to therapists for clinical work. Colm will facilitate a one-day CPD workshop on 'How to be a Supervisee' in Limerick on Saturday 29th November

'Calamity is opportunity in working clothes.'  Goethe

Across the country each day, counsellors are challenged through language to make sense of what is happening in the clinical space of counselling. As a practicing psychotherapist, I profess to being a lover of this language of exchange with clients and from my experience this language in the unique space of therapy is both demanding and often challenging and sometimes rewarding but it is never boring.  I applaud clients who come to work in this unique setting and who unpack, in time, the calamity of life itself in this therapeutic space of therapy.  For the trained therapist that has learned humility, that which may appear lost or forgotten can be recalled in the work of therapy when we allow the client to take our hand and take us where they want to go to in their work.

We know that making sense of this language with clients is difficult and we are never alone on this journey in the clinic.  Thankfully I have had the support of experienced supervisors to help me untangle the web of words and languages with clients and I applaud their perseverance over these years.  I see these people who  support me in my clinical work more as mentors and I prefer the  original Latin word supervidere -  ‘to survey’ - in place of the word supervision.  It is clear that the work of the clinic with clients is impossible without this ‘helicopter support view’ and this crucial hammock of support which underpins all effective clinical work.

Getting to this point of establishing a working supervisory/mentoring relationship takes time and effort and hard work.  It can be a daunting task for trainees who may often see supervision as punitive and sometimes unsupportive.  By the end of their core training, trainees in the field of counselling and psychotherapy learn to see the necessity and value of this unique working relationship with their supervisor which is a key to their own professional development.

Many leaders in the field of supervision and supervisor training such as Michael Carroll have managed to lay the foundation for sound supervisory practice for many practitioners in the caring professions here in Ireland.  Along with other training Colleges, PCI College is providing this important training for professionals.  These developments in promoting sound supervisory practice in the caring professions in Ireland have also encouraged other individuals and groups and communities to adopt sound supervisory practice for staff and members and so provide a better service to their customers.

As a working supervisor for the past 14 years, I have had the privilege of working with supervisees in various training colleges and in various caring professions and I have learned much from my supervisees also.  Supervision is about learning from one’s own experiences and the work challenges the supervisee to engage in a reflective and collaborative dialogue in supervision and to learn from that experience.

The work of supervision has often been seen from the perspective of the supervisor and in a
workshop that PCI College has scheduled in Limerick for November 29th I, as facilitator, will focus on the theme: ‘How To Be A Supervisee’.  As professionals we have all been in the position of the trainee at some stage and in this collaborative workshop I would hope to walk in the shoes of the supervisee for the day and look particularly at how the supervisee can better prepare and engage more fully with the relationship of supervision and the supervisory process in order to support the counselling work with clients.
As a lecturer in PCI College I am interested in informing students about supervision and empowering them to see it as forum for reflection and learning around clinical practice and to help them explore that which happens at the edge of awareness in clinical work.  Supervision is an opportunity for learning and developing a reflective practice and the ‘calamities’ of trauma, guilt and shame, loss, separation, pain etc., that are often presented in this work to the supervisee, can be seen instead as opportunities for greater awareness, insight and change for the supervisee and for the client.

It is hoped that this collaborative workshop on how to be a supervisee would enlighten and empower students of supervision and enable them to see the supervisory relationship as different and joyful too - in developing their own language of therapy beyond the space of supervision and so help supervisees become more effective collaborators and better skilled, less anxious and more patient professionals in this demanding field of clinical work.

Colm Early, MIACP, MAPPI (November 2014)
PCI College Lecturer & Client Work Coordinator

Colm Early will facilitate a one-day CPD workshop 'How to Be a Supervisee' in Limerick on Saturday 29th November at Limerick Education Centre. The workshop is open to qualified counsellors & psychotherapists and those in training, together with any therapeutic professional with a supervisory relationship. For more details and to book your place log on to http://www.pcicollege.ie/Supervision-Supervisee-workshop

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