Being myself in supervision

I believe that we all continue to grow as therapists throughout our careers as practitioners. The learning never stops - we learn from each other and our experiences. A deeper understanding comes from our involvement as therapists and enhances our knowledge, skills, and abilities. As I continue to grow on my journey, I have been reflecting more on my own supervision experiences over the years, and am wondering why they have been as significant and empowering to my development as they have. I keep coming back to the importance of the bond and the therapeutic relationship.

I recently heard an online recording of Robin Shohet talking about fear and love in supervision. He was sharing his phenomenological experiences of supervising others. What resonated with me most was how he explained that through his supervision, his supervisees were free to practice as they wanted to. As I heard this, I realised that this resonated with me and I wondered as to why. On reflection, I  realised how freedom had been an important element of the supervision I had received over the years - permission to feel free to express myself.

Unravelling this further, experiencing and having the freedom to discuss my practice openly had been possible because I had been comfortable about being myself in my relationship with my supervisors. Having reliable and secure attachments has been essential to share the range and depth of issues and concerns I have had in my practice over the years. With a secure attachment and the freedom and the feeling of comfort I describe, I could then share even the most challenging content openly, and in doing so be thoroughly supported and encouraged in my client work. Even the idea of sharing getting something wrong for someone I was sitting with. I didn’t hesitate to share difficulties, concerns, ethical issues, or feeling stuck. The more I was able to share, the more I could develop my understanding, grow in confidence, and be empowered professionally. I could be more like myself in my supervision.

What I am describing feels like the foundations or underpinnings that are required for something exciting to grow and develop. Like all living things, the right environment is required for that growth to take place. For me, the basis of that environment in supervision includes a healthy and balanced connection to facilitate the process of enabling the ability to supervise and to receive supervision. Empowerment to speak freely and explicitly about what you need to say and what you need from supervision is important. Having a good therapeutic relationship with my supervisees and providing an environment for that sense of freedom and comfort to develop is essential to my way of working and central to my ethos and philosophy as a supervisor. With this in place, it is possible to share successes, difficulties, struggles, and concerns. The better the relationship, the more that can be shared openly and honestly of what is experienced in the therapy room.

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South Walsham, Norfolk, NR13

Written by Mandy Atkinson

South Walsham, Norfolk, NR13

Mandy Atkinson, PTSTA (P),CTA (P),UKCP (accred.),MA, Dip Sup.,Cert. Ed. is a Transactional Analyst psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer. She teaches & examines counselling & psychotherapy at several colleges. She provides relational supervision in Hadlow, near Tonbridge, Kent. She specialises in trauma, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

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