What is ‘good’ supervision in services for adolescents?

What is ‘good’ supervision in services for adolescents?

27 November 2014
What is ‘good’ supervision in services for adolescents?

What works in supervision in services for adolescents? We asked two senior practitioners - please share your views in the comments below.

This article is part of a series of resources being released during our “Focus on… supervision in work with adolescents”.

Effective supervision is planned, focused, and facilitated by a skilled and confident supervisor. It relies heavily on the capabilities of the supervisor as a facilitator of reflective practice. The process also relies on active participation and honesty from the worker, as discussions ultimately focus on their self-awareness, and prompts a deep understanding of their reactions to their client’s experiences and behaviour.

Read more about best practice in supervision in our Practice Guide, Working with adolescents: Supervision.

We spoke to Corinne Henderson, Senior Policy Advisor at the Mental Health Coordinating Council, and Karen Hart, General Manager of The Youth Junction Inc., and Manager of the Visy Cares Hub, about their views on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ supervision.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments field below.

Corinne Henderson:

In my view, ‘bad’ supervision is when there is a power imbalance that affects a supervisee’s ability to share practice experiences honestly, and where the supervisee either feels a lack of trust, or the supervisor has a vastly different philosophy of practice.

There is a necessity for a supervisee to have confidence in the supervisor, whose interest is in assisting client work and promoting best practice, but also sharing their experience and expertise. They should provide a sounding board, enabling a supervisee to describe their practice in a way that facilitates recognition of poor (and exemplary practice) in a safe space.

Boundaries are important, and the relationship between supervisor and supervisee should maintain the principles of professionalism even when it includes collegiate friendship.

Karen Hart:

From a practical perspective, supervision must be regular and prioritised. Good supervision provides case managers with the opportunity to take time to reflect on their roles, and to discuss how boundaries with young people are implemented. Good supervision advocates self-care and prompts workers to discuss how their own personal issues may be affecting their role, or how the young people’s issues are impacting them and how they are managing that.

Through good supervision, case managers are able to discuss engagement strategies, and ways to respond to the additional challenges created when clients do not show up to appointments.

Ineffective supervision is not providing the case managers with enough time to reflect on their practice, or when case managers feel unable to express openly how they may have responded to young people in different, better and more effective ways.

Some young people will take longer to discuss than others depending on the type of intervention and timelines required to achieve outcomes, and sometimes it’s not always possible to provide adequate time to do this effectively. Supervision needs to be allocated sufficient time for it to be meaningful for staff.

Image: Teenagers playing soccer in the rain by Marlon Dias, CC BY 2.0.

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