March 18, 2021
Ways to Benefit from Secondary Supervision
You have completed your fourth year, found a psychological placement and now need to find a principal supervisor to support you throughout your internship. You may have spoken to prospective supervisors and now need to make the all-important decision of choosing the right person to meet your learning and supervision needs. Asking yourself the following questions will assist you to determine the best match for you:
This question is so important! The 4+2 and 5+1 supervisory relationship is a long-term one, where you will be meeting up weekly for at least one or two years. You need someone who you can trust, respect and relate to. You need to feel confident that this person will support you to become the best psychologist you can be.
Reflecting on your feelings during your conversation with a prospective supervisor will most likely inform how you will feel during your supervision sessions. Did you feel relaxed and comfortable? Did the conversation flow naturally? Was it a positive interaction? You need all these answers to be “Yes!”.
We suggest compiling a list of important and helpful questions to ask any prospective supervisor that you speak with. If you haven’t already done this, you might find our article Questions to Ask Prospective Supervisors helpful. Supervision is a big investment of your time and money, so it pays to do a bit of research to ensure a good fit.
Asking some key questions regarding a supervisor’s experience, interests and approach to supervision should give you an indication of whether this person can meet your specific supervision needs. For example, do you feel confident that this person can support you in your psychological placement? Could this person transition with you if you change to a different role? Does this person have training and experience in areas that interest you and are also relevant to your current work placement? Consider the supervisor’s responses to your questions and whether he or she has provided the answers you need to make an informed decision.
All Board-Approved Supervisors have several years’ experience in the field and have also completed additional training in supervision. But most importantly you need to feel confident that your supervisor is someone you can learn from. Do you feel their supervisory approach will be compatible with your own approach to learning?
Challenges and mistakes are inevitable, for both new and experienced practitioners. Sometimes our most difficult experiences provide invaluable learning opportunities, but this more likely when given the opportunity to reflect upon and evaluate these experiences. Supervision therefore needs to provide a supportive and collaborative space where you can present challenges and difficulties, ask questions, and clarify issues or concerns. This isn’t always a comfortable process, but you need to feel confident that any difficulties you raise will be addressed in a supportive and helpful manner.
When asking supervisors about their approach to supervision you will usually get a sense of their expectations of supervisees. Your supervisors will have a significant impact on your learning and development as a psychologist, and you want to ensure that you will learn as much as possible from them. This doesn’t just include theoretical concepts, approaches to intervention and completing the required tasks for registration. You should also consider whether this person will challenge and support you to consistently develop and refine your skills, knowledge, insight, reflective capacity and instil confidence in your own ability to practice independently post-registration.