Real-Time Adventures in Counselling Private Practice – Chapter Two

Posted by: Rhea Plosker on April 2, 2014 3:49 pm

The social brain is in its natural habitat when we’re talking with someone face-to-face in real time.
-Daniel Goleman (psychologist who defined “Emotional Intelligence”)

Chapter One, http://www.ccpa-p.caacc/blog/?p=3361 described my mid-life career transition from engineering to private practice. At the chapter’s end, I reached my goal of finding a supervisor willing to work using a collaborative supervision model, which we named a “post graduate internship”.

How does this work?

Since January, my Mondays are spent working with in Toronto’s Bloor West Village, a leafy, lovely commercial and residential neighborhood. The cozy office occupies the second floor of an older house with a hairdresser on the ground floor and a massage therapist down the hall. The frog statue on the staircase makes me smile.

I am an active participant with my supervisor, an experienced narrative therapist, and several clients. Narrative Therapists act like investigative reporters, helping the client externalize the problem, explore it’s influence, and look for times when the problem is less influential, called unique outcomes or exceptions. The therapist plays an important role, but the client is the expert. Narrative Therapy encourages using “outsider witnesses”, invited and participating listeners. My presence make it possible for my supervisor to offer this intervention, frequently described by clients as helpful and powerful.

I also see clients on my own. I might hold a first session with clients anxious to get started before a space frees in my supervisor’s schedule. There are times when my supervisor and the client agree a session with me would be helpful. We are able to work with couples in unique ways, including working one-on-one for part of a session.

What’s happening here?

At the center of this (literally, not just theoretically), is the client. Our weekly supervision sessions are based on the same client picture—not just carefully selected quotes, or audio/video excerpts. Our unique perspectives about that picture create a richness difficult to replicate in a supervision model where one of the parties will never meet the client. Knowing we will both be face-to-face with the client also creates a shared sense of urgency.

This kind of supervision is so common in the corporate world that I never stopped to consider how much courage it takes to “walk the talk” in front of each other and the client. Let’s be honest, it’s one thing to provide advice about working with someone you have never met, and quite another to work collaboratively, discuss what you heard, why you said what you said, and even the mistakes you made. But it also offers more to the client (for the right client at the right time), not to mention being both interesting and fun for the supervisor and supervisee.

Rhea Plosker is an Engineer and Counsellor. She is starting her adventures in private practice with and also works as a project consultant in health care and not-for-profit organizations. Rhea can be reached at [email protected] or at

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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