September 15, 2022

The Seven Perspectives: Perspective Five

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Focus on Supervisory Relationship 

The Fifth Perspective in our Seven part series on perspectives for Professional Supervisors focuses on the distinct relationship between the Professional Supervisor and their Supervisee/Mentor. This is the first instance that the series has turned the eye to look at the Professional Supervisor. Up until now, we have explored the dynamics between the Supervisee and their client; but the Professional Supervisor is never above scrutiny or growth. 

The relationship between Professional Supervisor and Supervisee is, in many ways, similar to the relationship we have already observed between the Supervisee and their client. They both involve a person in a position of leadership and a person they are helping to mentor. There are some differences however; the Fifth Perspective is almost always between two leaders and the relationship is professional and clearly laid out. It is a mutual decision to work together for the growth of the Supervisee. 

Many of the same issues can occur between the Supervisory relationship as we have covered in the past four blogs. Such as issues of bias, apathy, assumption-making, transference and counter-transference among others. It is just as key to understand all dynamics at work between both individuals. Trust and honesty is essential, as is self-reflection after each session. 

Knowing where to Set Boundaries

I have recently come across this wonderful article from Psychology Today: “The Me in You: Parallel Process in Psychotherapy,” by Michael J. Formica. It explains the beauty and challenges of Parallel Processing; the experience of seeing your own feelings and situations reflected in your client, as you are working through them simultaneously. This is something that, in the relationship between a Professional Supervisor and their Supervisee, is bound to rear its head. As humans, we can’t help but see ourselves and our pain or joy everywhere we look. We are seeking solidarity in our experiences. However, as a leader, therapist, counselor, coach, etc, our job is to focus on helping those around us. This often means setting boundaries to keep our stories and feelings to ourselves. This will allow our supervisee or client to focus on their journey. This article is helpful because it allows room for these feelings and even looks at how they can be mutually beneficial to the growing process. 

Questions for a Professional Supervisor to ask themselves:

  • How are my experiences similar to my client’s?
  • What am I holding back from my own supervisor?
  • How do I regard my own supervisor when I talk about my client?
  • How do I regard my client in the sessions immediately after supervision?

Click here to read the aforementioned article in Psychology Today on parallel process:  “I found myself staring straight into a mirror of my own grief.”

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