How to get the most out of supervision

Questions to ask a potential supervisor

March 25, 2019 - Clinical Supervision

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Questions to ask a potential supervisor

If you are considering a 4+2 or 5+1 internship it is important to find good supervision to support and guide you through this challenging but rewarding journey.  Supervisors can vary in their experience, theoretical orientation and approach to supervision, so it can be helpful to contact prospective supervisors to ensure that they are a good fit for you.  Most supervisors will be happy to answer questions and provide an overview of their supervisory style, and their responses should give you a sense of whether you could learn from, and feel comfortable and safe with, this person.

We have put together some questions for you to ask prospective supervisors, to assist you in choosing the right person to meet your needs.

What is your background and work experience?
If you already have a placement organised you will be looking for a supervisor who can support you in this role.  You will want to ensure that their skills and experience align with the expectations of your position.  For example, if you are working with young people you will need a supervisor who has good knowledge of early childhood development and can assist you with interventions for children and adolescents.  If you are working in organisational psychology you will be looking for a supervisor with experience in organisational settings.   

Do you have any areas of specialty and/or interest?
When embarking on an internship you probably have some idea of the areas you would like to work in, even if your current placement does not meet your specific areas of interest.  You may also have a leaning towards certain theoretical orientations and therapeutic modalities.  Potential supervisors will generally be happy to explain their preferred approaches to treatment and discuss their areas of interest as well as any additional training they may have undertaken. 

Can you describe your approach to supervision?
Supervisors vary in their approach and may have different expectations of their supervisees.  Some supervisors work in a more structured way, covering the core competencies and associated requirements systematically.  Others take a more fluid approach, covering the different competencies as related issues arise in supervision. 

The supervisor’s preferred therapeutic modalities will likely influence their approach to supervision, and a basic understanding as to how this translates to the supervisory relationship will help you make a more informed decision.

How do you assist Provisional Psychologists to meet the required competencies for registration?
Your supervisor will support you to meet a number of competencies throughout your internship, and will use a range of different methods to help you achieve these, such as discussions, role-plays, direct observation and simulated learning exercises. With external supervision it is also important to think through how your supervisor will observe you conduct assessment and intervention sessions. 

The assessment competency requires access to psychometric assessment tools which you may or may not have access to in your workplace.  Some supervisors have a test library and can offer training in the required assessment tools, which can make this process much easier. 

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