What is Relationship Based Clinical Supervision?
By Shannon Heers
The concept of relationship based clinical supervision in counseling, social work, and mental health is actually redundant. Clinical supervision in general does focus on the supervisory relationship as the prime factor for learning and counselor development. However, in reality, much clinical supervision does not actually prioritize the supervisory relationship, and this is when counselors, social workers and therapists get bad clinical supervision.
Successful clinical supervision is based on the relationship between the supervisee and supervisor, as more and more research has shown. The process of professional development and ongoing learning occurs within the context of the supervisor relationship. If the relationship isn’t there, the learning and professional development will likely not occur.
Administrative Supervision is NOT Clinical Supervision
Another way that clinical supervision gets distorted, often in agency or school settings, is that administrative supervision is being provided and called clinical supervision. But what tends to be discussed in these administrative supervision meetings with your manager or supervisor are program issues, productivity, paperwork deadlines, and other job duties that need to be done. Case reviews, treatment interventions, and evidence-based practices for specific client populations are not often topics in these types of supervision meetings.
Clinical Supervision Requires Unique Set of Skills
Often, especially in agency settings, it’s the case of “if you’re licensed you can provide supervision”. And therapists, social workers and counselors are thrown into the role of clinical supervisor with minimal experience receiving good quality clinical supervision themselves, little to no formal training, and having no idea what to do or how to even start.
Clinical supervision requires a unique set of skills that can drawn on your therapy skills as an advanced clinician but are also separate from yourself as a therapist. And it is also imperative that the clinical supervisor is an advanced-level therapist. A beginning or even intermediate-level therapist does not have the clinical expertise to guide newer therapists in the field.
What Makes a Good Supervisory Relationship?
There are many factors that go into creating and nurturing a good supervisory relationship. For example, there is the emotional bond between supervisor and supervisee, agreement on goals for supervision and tasks on how to accomplish this, and the follow-through in doing them. However, the supervisor relationship also incorporates safety and trust, which takes time to develop.
Throughout the supervision process, the supervisor and supervisee are both learning from each other, understanding how each other works best, and building a foundation for furthering supervisee professional development. Providing constructive feedback and supportive but honest evaluation are also essential in supervision and can only effectively occur when there is a good supervisory relationship.
Why We Believe in Relationship Based Supervision
Whether you’re obtaining licensure supervision, looking for quality clinical consultation, or joining one of our supervision or consultation groups, matching you with the best-fit clinical supervisor is our highest priority. Because that is how the supervisory relationship starts to develop.Here at Firelight Supervision, our highest priority is fitting you with the right clinical supervisor for you.
If you’re interested in Relationship Based Clinical Supervision, check out our Clinical Supervisor Bios and see who might be the best fit for you based on specializations, style, and schedule.