My Counsellor Has A Supervisor. Am I In Good Hands?
If you have even been to a counsellor or if you have read about counselling, you might have heard about counsellors being under supervision. In everyday work settings, a supervisor is (generally) someone who either directs or watches over the work of his/her supervisees. Usually, a new employee or an employee in the lower rung of the work setting is placed under supervision. Therefore, common sense would tell us that a counsellor who is under supervision is either someone who is not very qualified, or a fresher, and therefore it is best to avoid scheduling an appointment with him/her, right? Wrong! In the field of counselling, it is quite the opposite. Ask any expert and s/he will tell you that it is best to avoid scheduling an appointment with a counsellor who is NOT under supervision.
A good counsellor will always practice clinical supervision, which is not exactly the same as the supervision that we described in the beginning of this article. Supervision in counselling is aimed at ensuring the best possible outcome for you, the client. It is also aimed at the well-being of your counsellor, which eventually, means better for you, the client.
What exactly happens in a typical meeting between my counsellor and my supervisor?
The meeting between your counsellor and his/her supervisor is also called the supervisory meeting. Simply put, this meeting allows the counsellor to discuss his/her sessions (with all confidentiality maintained) and get an alternative perspective from the supervisor. It is a reflective process where the supervisor, being a third party observer, can help point out certain elements in the session that your counsellor might have missed. Yes, this can happen to even the best of the counsellors because they are, after all, humans. This is why it is advisable for a counsellor to undergo supervision.
Listed below are some basic elements of supervision:
1. The supervisor is a peer/colleague and not necessarily a superior or a boss
Many a time, counsellors practice what is called peer supervision. Consider this: counsellor A practices clinical supervision under counsellor B; counsellor B practices clinical supervision under counsellor C; counsellor C practices clinical supervision under counsellor A. So, you see, it is not possible to determine superiority of the counsellor just because s/he is a supervisor.
2. Supervision is not an everyday affair
Your counsellor has a contract with his/her supervisor just like the way you have a contract with him/her. The counsellor may choose to meet the supervisor once a month, or after the completion of 10 sessions. This varies from counsellor to counsellor.
3. Supervision does not violate your privacy
First of all, it is important to remember that you are not the only client that your counsellor meets. Therefore, a counsellor might discuss multiple cases with his/her supervisor. Additionally, even if your counsellor discusses about a session with you, your identifying information is withheld and for all you know, the supervisor might cross path with you every day, without either of you being any the wiser.
So, if you are seeking a counsellor, or of you are already seeing a counsellor, it is your right to find out if the counsellor practices clinical supervision or not. If s/he is, you are indeed in safe hands!