April 18, 2024

Refocusing Energies and Efforts in Supervision/Mentoring Sessions

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Have you ever been working with a mentee or supervisee, and a few weeks, months or years in, you begin to sense that their momentum is slowing? During sessions, do they seem distracted or unmotivated? This could be because of a need for more focus and energy regarding their goals. 

A mentor or supervisor has three primary focuses:

1) to lift or support the client’s well-being, 

2) to foster professional development by helping them to see what they do not see 

3) to promote professional standards. 

Its Natural

Losing energy and decreasing effort is a natural occurrence on the long path to growth and well-being. There is no shame in it, but it is part of a mentor/supervisor’s role to get clients back on track. If I notice my client is losing focus with their goals, I ask myself, “What is happening? What is going on that I am not aware of?” There are likely outside factors contributing to their distraction. They might be burnt out, struggling with weariness, depression or anxiety. Or, they may have just faced a professional failure or a personal tragedy. They could even simply be bored and want to seek a new, more exciting challenge. There are endless possibilities that can affect their goals and motivation. 

Time to Help

But it is one thing to recognise a distracted, unmotivated client, it’s another to help them through their predicament. I usually begin by directly confronting the client. As I am chatting with them I point out my observation: “I’m feeling that your focus is diminishing. You seem resigned to working with less energy? Am I misreading that?” Being straightforward provides the opportunity for them to see this truth if they didn’t already, or for them to offer another explanation for their distraction, which you can then explore. Maybe they’re not sleeping and are too tired to focus. Maybe they’re bored and are seeking a new challenge. Regardless of the reason, this can open up discussion about what the contributing factors are, and you can move forward from there. 

Address the Initial Goals and Passions

It can also be helpful to revisit your original contract. This can remind your mentee/supervisee of their original goals and reignite their passion. Sometimes, recognising how far they have come can inspire a client if they are feeling a lack of motivation. It can also be an opportunity for you, as the mentor or supervisor, to check-in and to discover what is or isn’t working for them in their life and also in your sessions. They may have some helpful feedback for your mentoring or supervising that can improve your sessions in the future. 

As we challenge our mentees/supervisees to rediscover their passion and focus, it is essential to ensure that our words and actions are not couched in judgment or force. They need to know that we are coming from an empathic and supportive place. Usually, thoughtful questions are the gentle push that they need to reignite their goals. 

I come back to this verse frequently. It reminds me that it is not force but wisdom and sharply honed skills that yield the best results:

”Using a dull axe requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.“

(Ecclesiastes‬ ‭10‬:‭10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection Questions:

  • How is my mentee’s/supervisee’s focus and energy? 
  • What might be distracting their efforts?
  • What questions can I ask to help them reignite their passion for their goals? 

What’s next: Do you need to grow your mentoring/supervision competencies? Consider your next step at

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