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I love this phrase from the Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden. “You haven’t taught until they’ve learned.”[1] It’s tempting to focus on what we teach as clinical supervisors. Instead, we need to focus on what therapists are learning

To do this, supervisors have to hold the paradox of two worlds, that of 

  1. performance and 
  2. development

An over-emphasis on performance can impede deep learning and negate performance, and an over-focused on the “self of the therapist” without an eye on performance i.e, client outcome can be turn into a navel-gazing exercise. 

In other words, supervisors have to create safe spaces for growth, not competence.

Further, given that supervisors are two steps removed from the clinical work, supervisors need to keep an eye that their combined efforts should translate into client improvement.

Researcher Edward Watkins raises an important question,

If we cannot show that supervision affects patient outcome, then how can we continue to justify supervision?[2]

Here’s more from Coach Wooden:

On mastering the craft:

…You win by becoming a better player of the game at large, not by adapting your technique to every new team you face. Your opponent will always be changing; it’s a losing race. But if you master the game, you will have skills and knowledge you need to defeat whoever you face.[3]

On Dignity (taught by his father, Joshua Wooden): 

No one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else.

On Directionality:

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.

Perhaps supervisors can embrace Coach Wooden’s maxim by rephrasing it to “You haven’t taught until you have learned.” 

p/s: Today is the last day (17th of Jan 2020) to LEARN DEEPLY in the Reigniting Clinical Supervision (RCS) web-based workshop. It’s personalised learning, at your own pace, with guidance and a community. It’s not a yearly- subscription. It’s a lifetime access. We hope to see you there.

[1] Nater, S., & Gallimore, R. (2010). You haven’t taught until they have learned: John Wooden’s teaching principles and practices. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

[2] p. 238 of Watkins, C. E. (2011). Does Psychotherapy Supervision Contribute to Patient Outcomes? Considering Thirty Years of Research. The Clinical Supervisor, 30(2), 235-256. doi:10.1080/07325223.2011.619417

[3] John Wooden, A Game Plan for Life, 2009, p.41

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