ECS3333 - EFFECTIVE CLINICAL SUPERVISION OF THE MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, FOUNDATIONS PART I
Effective Clinical Supervision of the Mental Health Professional
Module 1, Part 1: Foundations of Supervision
The Definition of Supervision and the Role of the Supervisor
The Supervisory Relationship
This course was written by Charles D. Safford, LCSW. Mr. Safford is President of yourceus.com, and he has over 35 years of experience as a clinical professional and over 25 years of experience as a supervisor, trainer and training developer.
Upon completion of this program trainees will:
- Understand the major roles of supervision to mental health clinical professionals
- Comprehend the major responsibilities of supervision to mental health clinical professionals
- Know the nature of the supervisory relationship when providing supervision to mental health clinical professionals and the key factors associated with successful supervision
- Grasp the basic differences between and among supervision, mentoring, consultation and therapy relationships, including appropriate boundaries between the supervisory and other roles, and the capacity to establish the correct role within supervision.
- Be able to assess the key clinical knowledge and skills to transfer within the supervisory relationship
6. Learn how to generate professional authority within the supervisory relationship, build trust, manage one’s self and exercise influence within the supervisory relationship
This course meets guidelines for 3 hours of Foundations of Supervision under the Georgia CPCS requirements.
Section 1: Introduction
It is a challenging journey to emerge from a Master’s or Doctorate level program in mental health (psychology, counseling, social work, and/or marriage and family therapy) and grow into a position of competence or mastery in working effectively – and independently - with clients and their presenting problems. The best graduate programs, with top tier professors, a well-designed curriculum, and excellent placement opportunities, will establish a good foundation for what is to follow.
However, there is an enormous amount of knowledge to acquire in this field, and there are many complex skills and techniques of practice. These must ultimately be integrated in ways that allow master clinicians to draw forth the right knowledge at the right time, and then incorporate that knowledge into the most effective evidence-based skills and techniques to work fluidly and successfully with clients.
Eventually, conscientious clinicians with the right aptitudes for clinical work will make their way to that level of competence and mastery. However, if clinicians are fortunate enough to come under the guidance of one or more experienced and skilled supervisors, the time frame to reach an appreciable level of competence can be substantially reduced. This, in turn, requires that the supervisor providing the guidance has both the knowledge and the skill to facilitate the developmental process to create an effective mental health clinician. This is the goal of what is understood as clinical counseling supervision.
Clinical Counseling / Mental Health Supervision
To state the obvious, supervision is an intervention that is provided by a senior member of a profession to a junior member or members of the same profession, with a key goal of developing and expanding the knowledge and skills of the more junior member. Because of the nature of clinical work – and its dependence upon the capacity to form a therapeutic relationship - supervision within the field of mental health encompasses a few special complexities that must be known and understood by the supervisor. This separates the work of supervision in mental health from what occurs in other fields, and distinguishes clinical counseling or clinical mental health supervision from other supervisory processes.
Defining Clinical Counseling Supervision
Clinical counseling supervision is a distinct professional activity in which
“education and training aimed at developing science-informed practice are facilitated through . . . a collaborative interpersonal process.” (Smith, K, A Brief Summary of Supervision Models, 2009, https://www.marquette.edu/education/graduate/documents/brief-summary-of-supervision-models.pdf)
“Development is facilitated when the supervisee engages in reflection on the counseling work and relationship, as well as the supervision itself. Thus, clinical supervision is now recognized as a complex exchange between supervisor and supervisee, with supervisory models/theories developed to provide a frame for it.”
(Smith, K, A Brief Summary of Supervision Models, 2009, https://www.marquette.edu/education/graduate/documents/brief-summary-of-supervision-models.pdf)
Benefits of Clinical Supervision
- Stressful events--helps develop coping strategies
- Role ambiguity--helps to clarify roles and responsibilities of the job
- Career development--can facilitate career progression by helping practitioners to enhance clinical skills and experience
- Skill use--skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback are recognized contributors to job satisfaction, which can impact on worker wellbeing. Clinical supervision can help to expand practitioners’ repertoire of clinical and interpersonal skills
(Source: NCETA, 2005, https://nceta.org/)
This course, and other courses to follow in this series, will support supervisors in their effort to provide this specialized professional activity. This will constitute a detailed search for the components that generate the most effective clinical counseling supervision, and the processes that allow for the successful transfer of knowledge and skills. Among other things, good learning in supervision will involve 1) assessing and analyzing the supervisee, 2) understanding his/her optimal style of learning, and 3) providing the right tools and knowledge 4) at the right time, 5) in the right sequence, and 6) in a format that the supervisee can use effectively. This set of integrated actions is much more difficult than it appears.
However, as will be noted in this introductory session, the educational or developmental aspects of the supervisory process represent only one component of effective clinical counseling supervision. There are other roles and responsibilities that must also be known and understood, and these will be covered in this introductory course.