Dr Danielle Mills (PhD, PGCert, BSc (Hons), MBACP (Accred)
My vision for the supervisory sessions I offer and what I intend to create in my supervisory practice is a “…relational space…where the focus is on creative, joyous, collaborative learning and personal/professional growth which allows support and monitoring of the supervisees work for the welfare and safety of the client” (Sampson, 2006, p.1). This will support the supervisee to become a ‘good enough’ practitioner, within their own approach (Sampson, 2006).
I offer supervision from a relational perspective, with a focus on a collaborative supervisory alliance. I am an integrative therapist, and integrate Humanistic approaches in order to offer a therapeutic approach that fits the client, rather than expecting them to fit the therapy. I also work within an equine facilitated approach, again underpinned by integrating Humanistic approaches to therapy. I take this approach into my supervisory practice in order support continuity and authenticity within my practice.
Supervision can take place indoors or through equine facilitated approaches. Working with horses involves different types of communication and connection than humans might be used to (Sharpe and Strong, 2015). As with humans, horses demonstrate emotions with adjustments in their body language; these changes are often more obvious in horses given their large size (Hallberg, 2008). Activities such as grooming, and the associated physical contact requires a “physical sign language” between horse and human (Edgette, 1996, cited in Sharpe and Strong, 2015, p.38). Brandt (2004) argues that humans and horses co-create embodied language systems to facilitate shared meaning. Humans may not be able to convey intentions to horses through spoken language. Within this relationship, the supervisee must experiment with this in order to generate a communication style in which they can relate to each other. This suggests that the body can be a basis for language, and challenges the privileged status of language (Brandt, 2004). From a phenomenological perspective, this shared understanding does not belong to either individual, but is shared and negotiated between them (Strong et al., 2008); from a Gestalt perspective, this is the co-created figure. When applied to supervision, this may allow the supervisee to consider their embodied relationship with the client and how they co-create meaning in this way.
Horses also appear to live in the here and now rather than projecting into the past or future as humans have been found to do (Hallberg, 2008; Kohanov, 2003; McCormick and McCormick, 1997; Rector, 2005). This can reduce the amount of bias and projection in the supervision relationship and create a non-judgmental space for supervisee to explore sensations, thoughts, and feelings (Ford, 2013).
From a therapeutic perspective, the interactions between horse and person require a heightened sensitivity to corporeal-relational engagement (Sharpe, 2014). As an EFP supervisor learns to read a horse’s responses to the supervisee, they can gather information about the supervisee’s experience that may not have been in the supervisee’s awareness (Hallberg, 2008).This can be explored and reflected on with the supervisee in order to explore how ways of thinking, being, and relating, can be expanded (Sharpe, 2014). An EFP supervisee may be required to relate to the other in ways outside of their corporeal repertoires (Sharpe and Strong, 2015); these moments of difference can help create new, and more adaptive, corporeal habits.
It is important to note that I work within the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Code of Ethics (BACP, 2018). Supervision is covered in this ethical framework, and I will expect supervisees to adhere to these ethics (or equivalent) within their practice.