Andria Smith Psychotherapist/Supervisor FdSc BSc (hons) MSc MBACP (accred) MBPS
The beliefs which inform my epistemology for supervision are that people formulate their own truths/interpretations/understanding and that their actualising tendency will encourage them to do this in a way that allows for growth and change. This underlying belief steers me to the Person-Centred Approach, which is instituted on a phenomenological epistemology. Phenomenological research seeks essentially to describe, rather than explain and to start from a perspective free from hypotheses or preconceptions (Husserl 1970). This is my starting point, free from assumptions of what the supervisee’s world of counselling is to them and open to subjective consciousness and experiences.
Furthermore, with the phenomenological epistemology as the foundation of supervision, I believe this allows room for a constructivist understanding of the supervisee’s practice. Constructivism views all of our knowledge as constructed and it is specific to the individual and context. However, it does not disregard the other methodologies, just that they may not fit that person at that time and place.
Due to the former I take a pluralistic stance to supervision which refers to the idea that there are many valid responses or answers to any significant question. I believe this allows for a non-judgemental approach to supervision, as there is no expectation of the supervisee’s response. I feel there is strength in not expecting the supervisee to respond in a correct/wrong way, as it allows room for their own personal growth and the supervisory content that the supervisee brings comes from the ‘self’ and not the ‘ideal self’
Remaining true to a person centred approach my style in supervision comes under the remit of reflection-in-action. I reflect on the observations as they are happening and adapt my approach to the learning style of the supervisee, whilst valuing the supervisory relationship of trust and openness to encourage the supervisee's growth.
This reflective/retrospective style as a supervisor is done within the model proposed by Inskipp and Proctor (2001) integrating three components: Restorative – checking the supervisee, Normative – checking the client work and Formative – taking care of the supervisee's professional development. The restorative aspect runs through the session continually, checking the supervisee's well-being as the case work and possible avenues for development are reflected upon.