September 12, 2020
Choosing the right supervisor for your internship
When submitting your internship to AHPRA you are required to nominate a primary supervisor and at least one secondary supervisor, however there is no limit to the number of secondary supervisors you can have throughout your internship. Some provisional psychologists only work with their primary supervisor for the duration of the internship and might never meet their secondary supervisor beyond the initial agreement and signing of forms at the start of their internship. Others nominate and access several different secondary supervisors
You need to complete at least half of your total supervision hours with your primary supervisor. The remaining hours can be with a primary or secondary supervisor, which means that up to fifty per cent of your hours can be secondary supervision. This article looks at different ways you can benefit from secondary supervision:
A back-up when your Primary Supervisor is unavailable
Supervision needs to be accessed on a regular basis, preferably every week. There may be periods throughout your internship where your primary supervisor is not available to provide supervision. These may be planned (such as annual leave) or unexpected (such as illness) or there may occasionally be weeks where it is difficult to find a mutually convenient time to meet. In this instance you would try to meet with one of your secondary supervisors.
Assistance with specific tasks or competencies
Supervisors have different areas of expertise and your supervision needs may be better met by more than one supervisor. For example, not every supervisor has access to psychometric assessment tools, and while every psychologist is deemed competent to use these tools, they may not necessarily be familiar with the latest versions of every test if they do not use them on a regular basis. Many provisional psychologists access secondary supervision specifically to meet the psychometric testing competency.
In some situations, such as when writing case reports, you may want to get a second opinion before submitting your report to the Board. Also, if your supervisor is fairly new to the 4+2 or 5+1 supervision pathways, it can sometimes be helpful to access secondary supervision specifically focussing on case reports, particularly with a supervisor who is able to provide you with clear guidelines on writing these reports and examples of case reports that have previously been approved by AHPRA.
Another area where it is common to access secondary supervision is when completing the mandatory observed intervention or assessment sessions. This can be especially helpful if you have an external Primary Supervisor but your Secondary Supervisor is internal, as this can bypass some of the difficulties provisional psychologists can sometimes experience when recording sessions (the organisation may not allow it or the client may not be comfortable). This can also be helpful if you have a local secondary supervisor, but your primary supervisor is in another state.
A different perspective or approach to supervision
Every supervisor will differ in terms of training, qualifications, experience, exposure to different client populations, preferred modalities and approaches to both therapy and supervision. Exposure to different perspectives throughout your internship is likely to enhance your overall knowledge and skill development. You might also find new areas of interest and find that you resonate with some therapeutic modalities more than others, which will influence and shape your own growth and development as a practitioner.
Support with specific presentations or client populations
Psychology is a broad and diverse field, and each supervisor is likely to have strong knowledge and expertise in some areas but not others. There may be occasions when you need support with presenting problems or client populations that fall outside your principal supervisor’s expertise, where it might be helpful to access a secondary supervisor who can provide guidance and resources to assist you.
Expertise in specific areas or therapeutic modalities
Psychologists can access training in a wide range of therapeutic modalities and interventions and each supervisor will offer something different. Some may prefer to stick to one or two treatment models whereas others may be more eclectic or integrative in their approach to client care. If you have completed training in a specific approach to treatment, such as EMDR, creative therapies, hypnotherapy etc. that falls outside your principal supervisor’s therapeutic skillset then you may benefit from secondary supervision to reinforce your skills and knowledge in these therapies.
A common way to access secondary supervision is via group supervision. Some groups will focus on case presentations whereas others will discuss a specific topic. In either instance, this tends to be a collaborative experience where you not only gain from the supervisor’s knowledge and experience, but also benefit from the support and different perspectives of other group members. Groups can also be a cost-effective method of supervision, which can be an important factor if you are paying for external supervision.
We hope you have found this article helpful. If you are interested in accessing secondary supervision please get in touch and we would be happy to discuss your specific needs and interests.