As I come to the end of another year of supervision practice, I pause to reflect back on that year and what it has brought. It is good to reflect back on the highs, lows, successes and learning for my supervision space. This reflection causes me to ponder the dialectic views which present in my supervision space and the way that very little is black and white, rather it is all part of the continuum of being ‘both/and’. So bare with me as I notice some of these:
- Supervision is both a privilege and a pressure: it is a privilege to work and engage in dialogue with others about their work, coupled with the pressure of also holding best practice and accountability at heart;
- Supervision is structured and flexible: requiring structure to ensure we follow process and purpose, while also being flexible enough to just ‘go with’ and ‘be in’ the flow of what the supervisee brings and needs each time we meet;
- Supervision is easy and hard: engaging in conversation and exploration is an easy way to spend an hour, while it is hard and takes bravery often to try a new thing and to keep everyone honest and prepared to go deeper in their reflection, self-awareness and practice;
- Supervision is about being me and about adapting me: as I can only be me all the time and must be authentic to who I am and the skill I bring, while also engaging and responding with others and others’ needs, style and authenticity cautiously never colonising them with ‘my way’;
- And in that same theme, supervision is also about holding social work ethics close and also holding them gently: so I hold integrity to my profession while carefully not imposing social work ethics and practice standards onto other professions I work with in my supervision space.
This year’s supervision conversations have highlighted highs, lows and success and challenges in all areas; for the people I work with in supervision, for the organisations they work within, and for the whanau, communities and individuals they support in their mahi. I have had a year where support has seemed to be required more than challenge for many I have worked with, and walking gently has been more important then going deeper or further. I do not find it hard to make social and political assumptions about this and about the environment our supervision is held within, in order to make sense of this supportive gentleness that has been required. I can see a year summarised by overworked and pressured individuals/organisations, whom respond to the pressure experienced by their communities, hence this year I have sought to support people to survive their circumstances while encouraging and noting their success and moments of thriving.
Looking forward, perhaps next year it will be the time to engage in more challenge; challenge of the status quo; of unrealistic expectations of workers, and of the way we ask communities, whanau and individuals to keep ‘sucking it up’ and cope with unfairness, inequity, racism, and marginalisation. Perhaps next year my end of year reflection will be to notice how I have done this from the place that I sit within my supervision space.
In the meantime I will hold onto that this year it has been a privilege and a pleasure to journey with those I have journeyed with in supervision and await what 2019 will bring. May this end of year bring you to a place of reflection and hope for moving forward.
Titiro Whakamuri, haere whakamuri