Supervision is foremost about relationship.

I’ve been pondering what this means in supervision this week. I am not one to agree with the proposal that supervisors should be changed after one or two years of working with them, and yet I also recognise that a supervision relationship should not go on indefinitely without review and evaluation about when the time to change supervisor is necessary.

However at the end of the day, if supervision is about a working and trusting, safe relationship then it is necessary to spent the time to develop and grow the safety and trusting relationship, to be able to nurture and develop the person and the practice of each other.

How does this happen?

Well it all begins with the process of whanaungatanga and spending time on Ko wai au.  The ability to meet and greet, to spend some time in mihi and whanaungatanga and to find together the place where we meet.  A safe and trusting relationship extends beyond this if supervision is to stretch and grow.  The literature is full of how to establish a working relationship and a supervision contract, and how to set up this supervision arrangement.  The wairua and mauri of how this happens cannot easily be quantified into a book or onto a page.  It still baffles me after over 20 years of supervision practice, what the ’magic’ ingredients are that create the working and effective relationship.  It is still so subjective and in the moment.

As I review my own supervision relationships I am caused to ponder what or where safe is, where trusting is and where challenge and comfort diverge.  Contrasting examples come to mind and I am aware that I have some supervision relationships which are pretty new, and yet have a depth and a safety to them already, and in contrast I also have supervision relationships which have stood the test of chronological time, but do not have a sense of depth and safety to mirror the length of the relationship.  There are a myriad of variables which support the creation of safety and to enhance depth, (and therefore robust conversation and challenge) in supervision.  I feel like I could talk (or write) myself around and around in circles trying to quantify and to understand why some supervision spaces hold safety and depth and some do not.  But I still come back to the same conclusion at the end of the day.  In the same way as any human practice is about human encounter and relationship, supervision is the same;  in the words of another;  “It seems that whatever approach or method is used, in the end it is the quality of the relationship between supervisor and supervisee that determines whether supervision is effective of not.” (Hunt, 1986)

May you enjoy depth and sincerity in robust supervision relationships today.

Na Karen