Counsellors may reach out for clinical supervision, sometimes also known as external supervision, for a variety of reasons including:
One of the most challenging aspects of clinical supervision may be in its definition. We all know what clinical supervision is, right? I’ve noticed, over the years, that it’s commonly assumed that as clinicians, we’re all talking about the same thing, but are we? Clinical supervision often suffers from a distinct lack of clarity around what it is, its purpose, how supervision sessions are structured and what strategies are used.
Previous experiences as a supervisee, in various contexts, were like walking into an unmarked landscape, unsure where my steps would take me. This may not be the worst experience–given that we all benefit from learning how to live with ambiguity, which may even help us cultivate curiosity and delight in the unknown–but in a clinical supervision context, I believe we can do better.
Powell (1988) defines clinical supervision, in part, as “a disciplined, tutorial process wherein principles are transformed into practice skills.” Adding to this, there is no “one size fits all” approach to supervision: the focus is tailored to the unique learning needs and clinical experience that each supervision client brings to the room.
As such, before a clinical supervision session, I ask clinicians to fill out a Focus Sheet which helps to clarify purpose, goals / learning needs. Completing the form beforehand also represents an opportunity to reflect on one’s purpose and aspirations for the session and as such, is an extension of the all-important ability to self-reflect, so essential to our work.
In collaboration with you, the following methods may be used:
Note: any case consultation involving discussion of specific identifying information requires signed consent from your client(s).
Sessions always conclude with a written plan for next steps in between sessions. Practical application outside of supervision, in my view, greatly enhances the benefit people receive from supervision. Last, I ask you to evaluate my performance as a clinical supervisor each and every session, again, with a brief written form.
I believe that essential to understanding what clinical supervision is is the understanding of what clinical supervision is not.
In my practice, supervision is not:
My philosophy is that the bedrock of effective clinical supervision is a climate of trust and emotional safety. If we are fearing judgment and recrimination, how can we be honest about what is truly going on clinically? How then can we have the clinical conversations that are necessary for us to be as effective as we can be?
A judgement-free zone does not mean that I will not offer critique – but it is always done with the utmost respect. Our focus is the clinical work, not your personhood or your identity as a counsellor.
Inherent in collaboration is an openness in session to provide mutual feedback and dialogue. Further, I do not impose an agenda; I work with you to find the solutions, resources and options that best fit your reasons for attending supervision.
While I will present ideas, offer suggestions, help you examine possible implications and assist in understanding clinical scenarios from various viewpoints, I do not give specific advice regarding your client’s situation. It is not ethical or responsible to do so when I have not met your client(s). We may however identify a variety clinical options or paths; you make choices based on your knowledge of your client.
I believe in clinical supervision from the inside out. I consult with my clinical supervisor monthly and also participate in regular peer supervision.
Speaking a similar ‘language’ is important and insures that we are examining clinical scenarios in a way that makes sense to you. While there will likely not be a perfect in the therapies that guide our individual practices, some common ground is important. I work from the following perspectives:
Further, I use Stotenberg’s integrated developmental model to guide my supervision practice, understanding that the learning needs of beginning practitioners differ from experienced clinicians’, as do counsellors who are “in between.”
Interested in working with me? Limited intake for new supervisees is available during the months of January, May and September each year. Please be in touch on one of these months to arrange a free 15-minute consultation to help you determine whether we might work well together.
Sessions are 50 minutes or 75-minutes. Please see my fees page for details.
In-person clinical supervision in my downtown Vancouver office or by phone or secure video call. I do not use Skype, but rather the North Vancouver-based, encrypted video platform through Jane App. Skype is not secure for mental health service delivery. Clinical supervision is available to local Vancouver -area counsellors or to mental health professionals in all parts of British Columbia, Nunavut and the Yukon. Please see my phone and video counselling page for information and parameters for working together over the phone or online. Regrets, supervision is only available for therapists working with adult populations. I am not able to provide clinical supervision for therapists working exclusively with children and youth/counsellors seeking support for specific child and youth-related clinical situations.
Ultimately determined by you. Beginning therapists may choose to meet more frequently, particularly if they have limited support in their current work setting.
The usual rules of confidentiality apply. I have a responsibility to maintain your confidentiality, as well as that of your client, except in situations involving the risk to yourself or other (including a child or elder) or if clinical notes are subpoenaed to court.
If you are seeking consultation regarding a clinical situation that includes identifying information, please ensure that you have provided a release signed by your client, authorizing discussion in supervision. I will attach this to the file. It is always recommended that you keep information to only that which is clinically relevant. This helps to retain focus and lessens the possibility of a confidentiality breech.
If you are a student enrolled in a counselling program with a practicum requirement, and are seeking a practicum supervisor, please note that while I am honoured by your request, I am unable to accept counselling students. As a solo practitioner, responsible for all aspects of Willow Tree Counselling (clinical and administrative and more), I do not have the office space or time required to offer you a meaningful and fulfilling placement.
A clinical social worker by training, I have been practicing counselling and psychotherapy since I graduated in 1998 with my Master of Social Work degree (MSW), from the University of Toronto. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a certificate in Family Studies, both from Simon Fraser University. Additionally, I completed the Field Instructor Training Certificate at the UBC School of Social Work and Family Studies in 2000.
More recently, I completed Innovative Practices in Clinical Supervision, a course at the Justice Institute of BC and Running on Empty, a workshop on compassion fatigue for mental health practitioners, both in 2014. In 2010 I credentialed as a Registered Clinical Social Worker (RCSW) following 12 years as a Registered Social Worker (RSW).
In my early career, I worked extensively in non-profit agencies and at the Master’s level, I have experience in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings and in the employee assistance sector. I founded Willow Tree Counselling in 2009, which has been my sole source of employment since its inception.
My passion has been counselling and psychotherapy from the start and I take active steps in my leisure and personal life to maintain joy for this work and avoid burnout. I am deeply grateful to my teacher, partner and friends who have persistently encouraged me in my meditation practice and shown me the Way.
Professionally, working with a diverse clientele has been key in keeping work fresh and engaging. I have extensive experience helping with: