September 29, 2022

The Seven Perspectives: Perspective Seven

The Wider Context

We have reached the final perspective in our series. During the last six weeks, we’ve examined the relationships, the backgrounds, the internal and external responses of Professional Supervisors, their Supervisees and the Clients that the Supervisee oversees… and what we can learn from their dynamics as a leader, mentor, mentee or just a human being. 

The final perspective takes the wider context of these relationships into consideration, that is the current and historical background of the supervisor-supervisee-client relationship which comprises two important types of influences—Observable Influences and Hidden Influences. 

Observable Influences are those elements of the wider context which currently impact the relationship. For example:

  • The organisation the client works for currently
  • The regulating bodies the client belongs to (e.g. church denomination or movement)
  • The wider system of people and organisations (influences) in the client’s life (e.g. partner, children, parents, GP, psychiatrist, probation service, keyworker, etc)
  • Cultural – local, national, global (the Covid Pandemic, for example, had many unforeseen effects on us all)

Hidden Influences are those elements of the wider context which are no longer present but whose effects remain, for example:

  • schoolteachers / coaches / past mentors 
  • deceased or estranged family members
  • significant events (traumas and successes)

It could be said that the seventh eye is the most important if you take the view that we are the sum of our past and present experiences. An understanding of the external influences in the client-therapist-supervisor relationship can help. Exploring current and historical influences can help when there seems to be resistance or impasse in mentoring or supervision. Family of origin often impacts our interventions.

As we are slowly discovering both the Observable Influences and the more obscure Hidden Influences, it is important to have a strong code of conduct that is explained clearly to all parties involved. People are complicated, and entering into potentially dark and scary emotional territory when others can mean we discover things we were not expecting. A difficult, yet fairly clear-cut example, is a teacher discovering their student is being abused and legally must call social services. The law makes this case cut and dry. A more complex scenario might include mentoring a friend who you discover is cheating on their wife. You may feel you have a moral obligation to keep your friend’s secret as a professional, yet want to tell his wife as a friend.

It is vitally important that, from the beginning, you know your ethical framework, how you will handle hypothetical scenarios if they become real, and set expectations for both sides of the relationship. 

Some questions for examining your ethical framework?

  • What are your principles? Your foundation of belief? 
  • Where do you draw boundaries?
  • Where does the law in your country draw boundaries? 

Continue reading with these articles…

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