An important part of any professional practice in the human services sector is clinical supervision.
In fact it is a necessary part of Continuous Professional Development and Education (CPE/CPD) for medical and nursing staff, allied health practitioners, generalist health workers and any qualified staff working in the community with annual accreditation and registration requirements.
What Clinical Supervision May Entail
As well as the organizational requirements, the practising worker may hold out some hope in clinical supervision for:
- an educational component;
- support and assistance to complete their role more efficiently and with better outcomes;
- mediation where there are opposing demands on the service and role within that service;
- and assessment / appraisal such as in a Performance and Development Plan / Performance Planning and Review or Expectation Agreement.
In some instances, managers and line supervisors may write the Agreement or PPR. In others, the health professional / public servant / community worker may fill in some parts of the Agreement, with Managers and Supervisors completing the area of expected outcomes in the role within the organisation.
Working in large organisations and smaller niche organisations can bring with it a few headaches and challenges, with blurred lines between administrative and quality assurance standards of the organisation and the worker’s own personal and professional practice standards. And there is the usual array of differing personalities and perceived unrealistic workloads and timelines for completion.
How do we Navigate this Conundrum?
Firstly, I think, how to communicate in an assertive way in a professional role is the number one game-changer to success. It allows one in a prescribed role to breathe a little – whatever that role is. We are communicating all the time – verbally and in written form – clinical notes, memos, handover tools, clinical reports, email, LYNC messages. Learning how to state our case and not be overwhelmed or intimidated by organizational demands or personalities is a finely-tuned skill. I address these issues all the time in my practice.
Secondly, finding time and space in the midst of all these demands for self. How are you managing through all this? How is the work/life balance going? Am I on the slippery slope or staring down a black hole? Am I suffering from mental fatigue? How is the new boss? Do I feel validated and appreciated in my practice? These questions are so relevant in an environment of day-after-day more of the same. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging and personal security and safety comes before esteem, respect, approval, dignity, self-respect and self-actualization: freedom for the fullest development of one’s talents and capacities, actualisation of the self.
Thirdly, discussion of the knowledge, skills, attributes and opportunities to develop and finely tune our performance in the workplace. Who are my advocates? Who can support me to get from Point A to Point B? How can I obtain clearance for that leave to attend that conference / workshop / study that I need to attend to progress personally and professionally?
You may be receiving internal clinical supervision within your organisation. That doesn’t negate the possibility of receiving external professional supervision as well. It could be the most profitable monthly engagement in your calendar!
Author: Susan Ward, B Arts, B Soc Wk, AMHSW.
Susan Ward has a wealth of experience in helping people with issues like trauma, grief and loss, eating disorders, interpersonal violence, social anxiety, stress, depression, and difficult relationships, as well as providing clinical supervision services to those in the human services sector.
To make an appointment for Clinical Supervision with Susan Ward try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- The Supervision Partnership : A whole greater than the Sum of Its Parts by Catherine and David Sawdon in Good Practice in Supervision Edited by Jacki Pritchard (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2000, London)
- Working in Human Service Organisations by Andrew Jones and John May (Pearson, 1992, Australia)
- Looking Forward Through the Lifespan by Candida Peterson (Prentice Hall, Sydney, 1989)