In Consultation

In Consultation

The 4 Stages of Supervision: Establishing a Lasting Relationship with Your Supervisee

By Robert Taibbi

September/October 2007

Q: I've always been attracted to the idea of being a clinical supervisor, but would like more details about how exactly it's done. Can you enlighten me?

A: As a clinical supervisor, you're part mentor, part administrator, part parent, part advocate, part sheriff, and part den mother. On any given day, you're coaching a new clinician on how to fill out an expense form or a supervisee on how to handle a suicidal teen, attempting to contain burned-out staff members who are testing boundaries, trying to invigorate the ones treading water and counting down the time until retirement, or--it has to be said--weeding out those who don't reach high enough. You also spend your time developing programs, arguing about the budget with your boss, attending boring policy meetings, signing time sheets, seeing your own cases, and making sure everyone is keeping up with theirs.

The administrative stuff plays second fiddle to your real job though: helping the therapists you supervise--from scared beginners to confident (sometimes overconfident) pros to burned-out timeservers--figure out what they need and how to weave together their strengths, skills, and personalities into a unique and personal clinical style. Obviously, you need good supervisory skills, but you must apply those skills in creative ways at different times with different staff because one size definitely doesn't fit all in this work. It's the relationship between supervisor and supervisee (rather than a…

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