How to get the most out of supervision
If you are accessing external supervision this can be a big investment of time, energy and money, so you will want to get the most out of your experience. Effective supervision requires input from both the supervisor and supervisee, and initially you might be unsure what to expect or how to use the time most effectively. It is important that you leave supervision feeling like your questions have been addressed and/or you have a plan to assist you in tackling the challenges you presented during the session. Supervision should enhance and facilitate your learning, reinforce the things you are doing well and provide you with the confidence to implement new skills.
The following tips will help you maximise your investment in supervision.
1. Be prepared
You will get more out of supervision if you know what you want to achieve during the session. When presenting cases ensure you provide adequate details and allow sufficient time for your supervisor to ask further questions to assist with treatment formulation. It can also help to prioritise the issues you wish to discuss, so you can address the most pressing topics first. You will also want to allow time for content (skills and knowledge) and reflection (your own responses and associated learning), both of which play an important role in your development as a psychologist.
Whether you are struggling to find content to bring to supervision, or you find you have too many questions to address during your session, it can be helpful to keep a notebook handy and jot down any questions or challenging situations that may arise during the week. You can then prioritise these in order of importance before meeting your supervisor.
2. Present your most challenging cases
Supervision provides an opportunity to debrief and access support and guidance with both new and ongoing cases. While it is important to celebrate our wins and share success stories, the greatest learning will ultimately come from your most difficult and challenges experiences. Mistakes are inevitable, especially in the early days, but when given time for processing and reflection, these can also be translated into valuable learning experiences. Your supervisor will recognise, and relate to, the range of challenges that you will face in your clinical work, and can to assist you to navigate these as well as suggesting ways to increase your skills and knowledge in particular areas.
3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable
We appreciate that this is easier said than done, however the more open you are about any issues you are struggling with the more likely you are to get the support and assistance you need. Training to be a psychologist generally entails a very steep learning curve, which can be understandably overwhelming at times.
While supervision should most certainly be distinguished from personal counselling, issues relating to self-care, burnout prevention and vicarious trauma will inevitably arise, and will need to be addressed. Life can also present personal challenges and struggles, and at such times it can be helpful for your supervisor to be aware of these so that they can support you to make the most appropriate decisions within your professional work.