I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a three day workshop on supervision: ‘Essential Skills for Supervision’.  Not my first ‘rodeo’ so to speak but it has left me reflecting on the privilege of working with a group of supervisors in the supervision training space.  Supervision is such a broad, vast and diverse field and experience, and the literature on it is growing all the time.  To choose which ‘content’ to engage with in a three day experiential training experience and to then work succinctly with this chosen content in a hopefully exciting, meaningful and engaging way with others is no mean feat and not something taken lightly but myself and co-facilitator, Chris.

Where to start, where to start, which models, which theory, which world view……

In our workshops, we begin with setting a scene; welcoming participants in, starting with a karakia to ground us and join us and ‘call in’ what we wish for our time together.  Next we create time to introduce ourselves and mihi to each other, doing this in a way that is sometimes tentative, but deep enough to encourage and support connection, to help us see each other, to help us see and hear who we are in the room with.  After this introduction process we move onto clarifying what each participant has come for and what they wish to take away from this experience, for themselves, for those they work with, and for their organisations. 

So now expectations are set, but what about the kawa for our learning environment?  So next we attend to the ‘how’ we will be with each other in the training space, how we will collectively create a safe space for all to participate and where all can engage and learn.

Next is the conversation on “what is supervision;” how do we define it, how do our organisations define it, how do our professions define it and how does literature define it?! And these answers are wide and varied, demonstrating commonality and diversity.  It is not the answer which is actually the important piece here but the conversation, what are the many views and ways of seeing supervision, what are the varied names it may also be known by and how do we find common ground amidst all this diversity.

And so by now the scaffolding is set in the training room to begin to work with some ‘content’. We meander our way through some content (remembering there is SO much to choose from), we actively engage the participants in reflective practice and in noticing the ways they engage in reflection and the differing ways of engaging in reflection.  Along with reviewing some selected supervision models/theory/ways to understand what is going on in the supervision space, as well as considering the skills required to engage in this work.  It should go without saying that considerations of ethics sit somewhere in this mix of content also.  All of this content is approached with a view that they are offerings only and that we are not introducing the only way of seeing and working in supervision, but providing options for participants to add to their kete of knowledge and skills if it fits with them.

And all the while, during this workshop we are checking in with the group; about how we are doing, what they are learning and what more we still need to do to meet their hopes and expectations for the workshop.  This is the review and evaluation aspect of learning; knowing we will not cover everything in only a short three day workshop, in the same way as it is not often possible to cover everything in a short one hour supervision conversation.  However what has been achieved is some learning, some connection and some relationship building, which can carry us all a little further in our journeys as long as we stop and notice and take stock of this.

Really when I think about this process of facilitating a workshop on supervision, the process totally mirrors what we are inviting our training participants to do within supervision; to connect with their supervisee and engage in whanaungatanga, to understand each other, to then clarify their expectations for supervision, to clarify their kawa  and processes for supervision and to understand their definition, experiences and purposes in engaging with each other in supervision and to have some clarity about organisational and professional expectations and ethical imperatives.  Further, to engage in reflective practice and utilise models, theory, skills and understandings to develop and enhance their knowledge, and to know there is always more to know and more ways of knowing.  In addition to also review and evaluate what has been covered in a supervision session and know that there may still be more to do.

So the process of reflecting on this supervision training, reaffirms to me that at the heart and key of all practice, be it within a supervision room, or a training room, or even working in our community with whanau and clients, is to develop the relationship and build connection in a safe enough way, to be able to then clarify the why, what and how of the work that will be completed, to then safely engage in learning, possible change, and further growth and development.   The relationship and the expectations of what the relationship will deliver being the key for me before the ‘content’ emerges. Well that’s my musing anyway…..

Is this the same for you in your practice?  What would you say are at heart and key for you in your practice?

Ngā mihi


2 thoughts on “Just some thoughts really……

  1. I loved your workshop for all the reasons you described. You actively modelled throughout the entire training how to supervise, the pacing, the respect, right down to having a room with some outdoor space and having healthy snacks available to nibble on. I have worked in health for nearly 30 years and have attended copious amounts of training but think your workshop was the only one that I actively felt cared for as I learned

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