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We sometimes over-extrapolate the idea of “parallel process.” Maybe we think that therapists often recreate, or parallel the client’s problems by way of relating to the supervisor. Or maybe we think that we learn to be a good supervisor from our role as psychotherapists, and re-model that in the provision of clinical supervision.
While there may be similarities at the level of engaging another person in promoting growth, there is another level of challenge here.
In therapy, we create a climate for change with the person in distress. In supervision, we are trying to effect change through the therapist. Even though the clinical supervisor is two steps removed from the client, we hope that the supervisor-therapist conversation leads to better outcomes by osmosis. Yet, in spite of our faith in the supervisory process, the current evidence based on our default approach is bleak. Traditional clinical supervision has not led to improved client outcomes.
Here’s the second-level problem: While we spend time putting out the fires or disentangling from “stuck” cases, therapists are not improving in their overall outcomes. What’s more, when we surveyed therapist’s before our workshops, even though therapists endorse supervision as the primary mode of learning, we found that less than 10% of participants expressed being “very satisfied” with their current experience of clinical supervision. (Though the majority were “neither dissatisfied nor satisfied, there were close to 10% who were “moderately dissatisfied” as well. My suspect is, their supervisors don’t know about this experience. For some, there don’t get to choose who their supervisor is in the agency.)
Let’s say we take a moment to consider the consequences of continuing our business-as-usual practices in supervision. Chances are, we are going to keep getting what we are getting: Continuous faith, coupled with stagnant results on both client and therapist levels.
The issue isn’t a lack of will, but a lack of access to improve our supervisory skills. Maybe it’s not just “skills” per say, but also a better way to design personalised learning environments for their supervisees.
Supervisors too need to find a better way to design learning environments for themselves. At this point, we have to face the somber reality that our past attempts haven’t been translating to better outcomes. (Click here for more about the inherent issues about clinical supervision).
I argue that in order for things to change, we need to not only coach for performance (i.e., improving client outcomes, one client at a time), but also coach for development (i.e., promote individualised learning based on therapist’s current baseline, one therapist at a time).
For more details, click here to preview segments of our in-depth, cutting-edge learning platform, Reigniting Clinical Supervision (RCS)
Harvard professor Clayton Christensen says that half of US colleages are bound for bankruptcy in the next few decades. Instead, online education will be a more resourceful approach to learning. (Read this article)
The Registration for RCS course closes on 3rd of May 2019. The course begins on the 6th of May 2019. If you are a subscriber to Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development, remember to use the exclusive promo code. It’s in your last newsletter. Discounts diminish in the future.
This course was specifically designed for supervisors who are enthusiastic and driven to improve their game, while facing the realities of being time-poor. Gleaning from the best practices in learning, the RCS course is delivered in a “drip-based” approach, which means every Mondays and Fridays, you will be given one bite-sized practical idea for supervision. You can a lifetime access to the course materials… oh, and look closely at the bonus materials provided to you (at no-cost!).
Click here to register before the end of May 3, 2019.
 Rousmaniere, T. G., Swift, J. K., Babins-Wagner, R., Whipple, J. L., & Berzins, S. (2016). Supervisor variance in psychotherapy outcome in routine practice. Psychother Research, 26(2), 1-10. doi:10.1080/10503307.2014.963730
 Data was collected as part of our pre-workshop surveys since 2015-present.