6 Ways Supervisors Can Support Supervisees Who Identify as LGBTQIA+
By Shannon Heers
If you are a clinical supervisor, it’s likely that you either have, had, or will have a supervisee who identifies as LGBTQIA+. While every supervisee with specific identities has unique considerations, you can learn to support those that identify as part of the queer community in the following ways.
Educate Yourself About LGBTQIA+ Identities
As a first step in supporting your supervisees who identify as LGBTQIA+, you’ll want to educate yourself. You can learn more about the different identities within the LGBTQIA+ community, such as gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, and non-binary, among others. This also involves understanding the unique challenges that these individuals face, such as discrimination and stigma, and how these challenges impact their lives and well-being.
Create a Safe and Inclusive Environment for LGBTQIA+ Supervisees
If you and your supervisee work together in the same work setting, then it is your responsibility to help create a work environment that is safe and inclusive for your supervisee (as well as all employees), regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. If you don’t work together at the same place, then you can help advocate for your supervisee and create a supportive supervisory setting.
Creating a safe and inclusive workplace may include knowledge of policies and procedures that protect LGBTQIA+ supervisees from harassment and discrimination, and making sure that your supervisee feels safe in talking with you about any concerns they may have.
Other steps that you can take as a clinical supervisor with an LGBTQIA+ supervisee is advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms, using gender-neutral language, and displaying symbols of support for the LGBTQIA+ community. You can also look at your digital or online presence, and ensure that a website, digital marketing such as flyers, business cards and brochures, and social media platforms include language and symbols that are welcoming to LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Foster Open Communication with Your Supervisee(s)
As part of developing the supervisory relationship between yourself as a clinical supervisor and your supervisee, you are already working on open and honest communication together. This is even more important when you’re working with a supervisee of a marginalized population, such as those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
You can ensure that your supervisees feel comfortable talking with you about their experiences as LGBTQIA+ individuals. You may also want to facilitate actively seeking out their perspectives and ideas and incorporating them into decision-making processes. Finally, remember that your supervisees’ experience as an LGBTQIA+ person is unique and different than any other LGBTQIA+ supervisee.
Provide Resources and Support to LGBTQIA+ Supervisees
It is helpful to be able to provide your supervisees with resources and support to help them navigate the challenges they may face as LGBTQIA+ therapists. In particular, sharing training and development opportunities to help them build the skills they need to succeed in their careers is a good way to support your supervisees.
Of course, it is also important to ask your supervisees what will be helpful for them and how you can best support them.
Promote Visibility of the LGBTQIA+ Community
As a clinical supervisor, you can create opportunities for your supervisees to be visible and celebrated. This can include things like recognizing Pride Month and sharing information about the LGBTQIA+ community with your colleagues.
Lead By Example as a Clinical Supervisor
Your actions have a significant impact on the culture and attitudes of your supervisees. Lead by example by being an ally to your supervisees who identify as LGBTQIA+. Speak out against discrimination and prejudice whenever you encounter it. This helps to not only create a more inclusive and supportive work environment but also sends a powerful message to others that the LGBQTIA+ community is valued and respected.
In conclusion, supporting supervisees who identify as LGBTQIA+ is an important part of creating a safe and inclusive space for your supervisee to learn and practice. By educating yourself, creating a safe and inclusive environment, fostering open communication, providing resources and support, promoting visibility and leading by example, you can help your supervisees to feel valued and supported in their careers.
How we can help
If you are looking for further clinical consultation around working with the LGBTQIA+ community, check out Natalie Thomas, our clinical supervisor who specializes in this work. In addition, all of our clinical supervisors are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community.
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Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, approved clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and the owner of a group psychotherapy practice in the Denver area. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Firelight Supervision on Instagram.