September 22, 2022

The Seven Perspectives: Perspective Six

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Focus on the Supervisor

Welcome to week six in our series on what we can learn from the Seven Perspectives for Professional Supervisors. Last week, we delved into the relationships between the Professional Supervisor and their Supervisee. This time, we are narrowing the lens on the Professional Supervisor themselves; examining their professional process and what is going on inside of them  as they react in sessions with their Supervisee and on a larger scale of well-being. 

There are many professions, like Professional supervisors, where the goal is to help others grow in health and self-awareness; therapists, councilors, coaches are just a few examples. There are also moments in almost every person’s life where we find ourselves taking up the role of a mentor; whether in a professional capacity or just naturally in everyday life. No matter one’s exact role, if someone is in the position to give advice and guidance, it is important to be in a healthy and self-aware place. It’s similar to being on an airplane and being told to put on our own oxygen mask before helping those around us: we must first make sure we are healthy and capable or we can end up doing more damage than good. 

The effects on you

As a professional mentor, I sometimes find myself triggered by my mentees’ emotions or experiences. Their grief or shame or anxiety raises similar feelings in myself. In our last blog, we touched on the concept of Parallel Processing—seeing yourself in your client, and how it can be a way for you both to work through hardships. However, it can also be dangerous. For example, if your client is experiencing a deep loss, you have also lost someone and you can see their grief and feel their grief… this can blur objectivity and change your response. A mentor in this situation might find themselves saying what they want to hear, rather than what their client really needs to hear. This is a very human response, but, in a professional capacity, we need to keep boundaries in place and always do our best to be unbiased.

So how do we avoid making mistakes? 

  • The first step is to acknowledge, in the moment, that you are feeling something deeply. Sometimes, we instantly know why and where that emotion is coming from. Sometimes, it evades. 
  • Next, we should spend time after the session reflecting. Why did I find this difficult and draining? What impacted me? Where can I see parallels between myself and my client? I think that reflection after any session is important, but especially if I am triggered emotionally. 
  • Finally, have a mentor of your own. No matter how high up the ladder you are, regardless of the work you have already put in, we always need an outside perspective to help us see clearly. Debrief your session with someone who can help declutter the emotions and shed light in the  dark corners you can’t see yourself. 

Continue reading with these articles…

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