So what is the process of supervision really like? Will my supervisor want video or audio tapes of my sessions? What will the focus be? Case Conceptualization? Theoretical orientations? Intervention strategies? The reaction to the clients themselves?
Supervisors approach the process of supervision from many different perspectives and this should be one of the most important conversation topics to have with potential supervisors. Some supervisors will have their interns go over each of their cases each week, while others may focus more on the intern’s reaction to the client cases.
For many, the role will be as teacher, offering suggestions and intervention strategies to consider in working with each of your clients. Case conceptualization is a popular supervision process. Helping the intern begin to create a clinical profile of their clients, so they may define an intervention strategy for what each of their clients is dealing with. In these cases the focus is on the client.
For others, the philosophy is often that the focus should be on the intern and what is showing up for them during sessions that might be getting in the way of therapy. The premise here is often every therapist is doing this work differently, and with hundreds of therapeutic interventions available, what the therapist is “doing” in the room isn’t as significant as what of their own issues might be getting in the way of whatever they’re doing.
Some may ask if this approach crosses the line of supervision looking too much like therapy. It could, and it is the supervisor’s responsibility to keep those lines clear and distinct. Supervision; although not therapy, can be therapeutic. Most supervisors will to varying degrees play all these different roles, but each will probably have a foundation that is grounded in either the client-focused or therapist-focused perspective. Consider which you’re looking for, and make sure that critical conversation happens during your search for a supervisor.