I’ve been reflecting lately on what it is that makes for good clinical supervision. Clinicians all know its an essential part of our support system, and when its at its best it keeps us and our clients psychologically safe. So why doesn’t it always work?
Effective clinical supervision is a relationship between two professionals who respect each other. It calls for a willingness to be with whatever it is that needs exploring and exposing within the clinical work, and therefore the clinician to make the necessary psychological shifts to enable clinician, and in parallel, client, growth.
Just like a client in therapy, a clinician is only going to approach and confront the difficult if they feel safe. Why would they sit with, their shame, anger, fears, boredom, feelings of inadequacy and more if they fear judgement or attack?
To enable our clients to bring their whole, unedited self into our therapy room, we first need to do the same in supervision. We need to work with our relationship with our supervisor in real time, naming what is happening within and between us, and bringing into the light our blockages and defences.
We need to allow our entire self to show up, to be seen, and to be held compassionately. We need to know that while our actions and words might not always be wise, we are nonetheless accepted as a person with loving eyes, that look to enable growth and learning, to help us become more skilled and to deeply understand ethical issues.
As we do this essential work, we are more and more able to be more present with our clients, to their benefit and to our own.
So, ask yourself, are there no go zones in your clinical supervision? Are there feelings, topics or thoughts that either you, or your supervisor can not or will not bring into the room?
If so, how can you name and work with this together? How can you bring life and vibrance into this most important of relationships? How can you both be at your best?