We have all experienced supervision in counselling program practicums. It usually involves either one on one supervision or peer supervision with more than one trainee present. Supervision involves reviewing and discussing ongoing counselling cases in order to form case conceptualization. It involves tracking progress of your clinical skills and client progress. It involves discussion around interventions used and formulation of goals. It’s a requirement for counselling programs to determine competency in graduates. It is also a requirement for all counsellors in private practice and in most institutions as we are unregulated as of now. Once we are regulated with the CRPO and pass regulatory and training requirements, will we be able to continue practising without supervision, although, I would strongly advise it for continued education and competency. Counselling in private practice is enmeshed with isolation, so supervision and even peer supervision assists in networking further. Supervision is usually provided by regulated psychologists. Some psychologists may also provide you with third party billing to ensure your clients can access insurance coverage. Unfortunately, for counsellors now, we cannot provide this as we are unregulated.
Things to note: Inform all clients who you are supervised by in your initial session and provide contact information in your consent form. Clients should be encouraged to discuss any breaches of therapeutic alliance or issues with the counsellor first and proceed to speaking with the supervisor. I usually include supervision as one of the exceptions to confidentiality in my contract. If there are any issues that may (hopefully not) arise than your supervisor may advise a meeting with you and the client present.
Supervision is not consultation, it has more of an evaluative component to it. Supervisors need to adhere to their professional standards set out by their college and it would be wise to be wary of these requirements yourself.
Supervision should reflect what you want out of the process. Are you looking for sympathy, insight, encouragement, direction, evaluation, mentoring? I’ve primarily used it for case conceptualization as well as the rest of these listed. I’ve also used supervision for networking and marketing ideas as well as mentoring and resource referrals. I’ve also learnt that I require from a supervisor trust and a wealth of experience and practical knowledge. Building a rapport with your supervisor is essential to the supervision process. If you cannot build a rapport, then you should move on to another supervisor as this will impact your practice. Your supervisor needs to be accountable and reliable when crises arises. Supervisors should be good at recognizing transference issues and other subtle clues into barriers in counselling. They should be valuable in helping you gain and build on counselling skills and strategies and help you develop your niche and approach. Supervisors and supervisees both play a part in the supervision process. Supervisees need to present case notes and therapy plans to their supervisor. It is important to clarify expectations and requirements of the supervisory process, therefore, the supervisor should have a contract drafted for both parties to sign so that expectations and roles are clarified early on. That way everyone is on the same page as to what to expect and you can then relax and enjoy the supervision process.
To end, think about what advantages or disadvantages you found in your previous practicum supervision experience. What did you need the most from your supervisor? What did you need less of? What qualities did you admire in that supervisor or wish they had more of? Questions like these will assist you in choosing a therapist. Choosing one that fits your approach, niche and clientele should be a priority as well. Lastly, get to know the requirements for supervision set out by CCPA and your supervisor’s college.
Andrea Cashman is a private practice counsellor who has founded Holistic Counselling Services for individual clients seeking therapy in Ottawa, ON. She also practices at the Ottawa Hospital as a registered nurse. Feel free to comment below or contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at www.holisticcounsellingservices.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA