Supervision as defined by Webster is to oversee, direct or manage. The term supervision makes me think of a supervisor in a business setting who just sits back and tells me what to do.
The type of supervision I am talking about comes from other medical professions such as psychology, social work and nursing. The goal of supervision is to increase awareness and on-going self awareness of the therapist. Supervision is all about the therapist and whatever they need to become what they want to be! The more support we can get as therapists, the more support we can give to clients.
Supervisors are usually senior massage therapists who specialize in working with issues related to the therapeutic relationship that occurs in our practices. This is done through listening to how the therapist feels about whatever is going on in their practice. It does not mean that the supervisor is going to tell you what to do!! The goal of supervision is to have the supervisor mirror what is going on in the therapist with the intent of having the therapist learn for themselves what it is they need to do in their practice. This is done through the process of active listening. During the process, the therapist may ask for the supervisors opinion knowing that is just that -their opinion.
Individual supervision is a one-on-one relationship where the therapist hires a supervisor. A commitment to meeting regularly is needed to build the relationship and work to find the core issues that the therapist is struggling with. Some common issues to work on are boundaries, transference and counter-transference, projections and specific details of practice. Working on an individual basis, the therapist gets the exclusive attention of the supervisor.
Peer supervision (peer group) is a
group of peers meeting to share their experiences. This again is not to
"fix" the problem, but to share the underlying feelings that arise in
practice. Active listening is practiced. The group may also be used
for networking and talking about business building ideas, but time on this
should be limited. Often groups will invite a supervisor in at times to
provide direction, clarity and support. Groups can be all massage
therapists or include other disciplines.
Group supervision is a group of peers meeting with a supervisor to discuss their feelings about the therapeutic relationship.
Supervision is the next step in building the massage profession. I wish we had a better word to describe what it is and what it does. Massage therapists are such individualists that the term may scare some off, thinking that the supervisor is going to tell them what to do! Massage therapists are also often isolated in their practices that it becomes difficult for them to view what is happening in their practice.
Some definitions of supervision:
'A formal process of
professional support and learning which enables individual practitioners to
develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice
and enhance consumer protection and safety of care in complex clinical
situations. It is central to the process of learning and to the scope of the
expansion of practice and should be seen as a means of encouraging
self-assessment and analytical and reflective skills' (Vision for the future
Butterworth & Faugier
(1992) said supervision refers to a range of strategies, including: 'preceptorship,
mentorship, supervision of qualified practice, peer review and the maintenance
of identified professional standards' and was: 'both a personal and professional
differentiates supervision in contrast to more well-known procedures:
'(supervision is)…not psychotherapy or counseling…nor is it directive
management, individual performance review or staff appraisal. It is not a form
of disciplinary procedure…it is not any of those things which some nurses seem
to fear it might be or could be used for'.
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