What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

Pam Rycroft and Dan Moss
26 February 2020

This webinar discussed child-focused supervision practices and initiatives to support child-focused practice in adult services.

Family in the park

Slide outline: What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

1. What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

Pam Rycroft and Dan Moss
CFCA Emerging Minds Webinar 26 February 2020

2. What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

Pam Rycroft and Dan Moss

3. Learning outcomes

This webinar will assist practitioners who work with parents in adult-focused services through:

  • Describing what characterises child-focused supervision practices and the responsibilities of organisations to support these
  • Outlining practitioner competencies that enable child-focused practice
  • Highlighting a range of innovative and achievable processes that support an organisation’s commitment to child-focused practice
  • Exploring some of the challenges that may arise in the context of the supervision relationship when exploring child-focused practices in adult services.

4. Acknowledgements

Emerging Minds and CFCA wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands across Australia upon which our webinar presenters and participants are located.

We wish to pay respect to the Elders past, present and future for the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Indigenous Australia.

5. Webinar series

2019/20 Emerging Minds series: Focus on infant and child mental health

Future webinars:

  • Responding to Aboriginal children and families in contexts of family violence
  • Cultural considerations when working with children and families.

Previous webinars in the series:

  • Supporting children after natural and human-induced disasters
  • Working with parents affected by alcohol and other drug use: Considering the needs of children in practice
  • Parent-child play: A mental health promotion strategy for all children.

6. Housekeeping

  • Send through your questions via the chat box at any time during the webinar.
  • Let us know if you don’t want your question published on the online forum following the presentation.
  • All our webinars are recorded.
  • The slides are available in the handout section of Gotowebinar.
  • The audio and transcript will be posted on our website and YouTube channel in the coming week.

7. Presenters

  • Pam Rycroft, Psychologist & Family Therapist
  • Dan Moss, Workforce Development Manager, Emerging Minds
  • Chris Dolman (Facilitator), Senior Workforce Development Officer, Emerging Minds

8. Child-focused supervision in adult services

9. What do we mean by child-focused supervision?

A structure of support that enables frontline workers (and organisations) to identify and respond to the needs of clients’ children. It continually aims to build the capacity of adult-focused workers and is grounded in reflective practice, based on an organisational commitment to identify and respond to the needs of clients’ children.

10. 2018 National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health: Needs Assessment

  • Acknowledgement that enquiring about the children of clients is an important early intervention and safety mechanism for children, as well as a motivating factor for change in parents.
  • Lack of cohesive understanding about whether child-focused practice is part of the role of the adult-focused practitioner, unless the organisation has developed clear mechanisms that plan for, monitor and review this part of their role.
  • With increasing KPIs and less time, practitioners sometimes feel they don’t have the space to work in child-focused ways.
  • Concern about confidence/competence in discussing concerns about children.
  • A skilled, reflective supervisor is critical in supporting confidence and competence in working in child-focused ways.

11. What is happening in adult services?

  • Homelessness services
    • Percentage of those presenting with children increased from 18% in 2008 to 37% in 2013 (Parry, Grant, & Burke, 2015).
  • Post-separation services
    • Parents often report that children have witnessed family violence.
    • In 2014, 64% of mothers reported that their children had witnessed family violence before separation and 50% since separation.
    • 54% of fathers reported that their children had witnessed family violence before separation and 43% since separation (Kaspiew et al., 2015).
  • 2016 National Drug Household Survey
    • 18% of single parents drank alcohol at risky levels.
    • 16% of parents in a couple drank at risky levels. 

12. What is happening in adult services? Cont..

  • Greater numbers of children directly affected by parents’ experience of adversity
  • More parents with acute issues using government-funded, low-cost services
  • More children attending services

What does this mean for children?

The 2015 Young Minds Matter Survey found:

  • One in seven children aged 4–11 years experienced mental health difficulties of clinical significance in the previous 12 months.
  • One in six children who had a mental health condition in the previous 12 months had accessed a service for this condition. 

13. How can child-focused supervision help?

  • Part of an organisational commitment to making children’s mental health everyone’s business
  • To ensure child-focused practice is measurable and achievable, rather than being left to practitioners’ confidence or competence
  • To help practitioners discuss areas of development (e.g. lack of confidence in asking parents about the social and emotional wellbeing of their children or becoming overly judgemental/punitive in conversations with children) 

14. What is good supervision?

  • Good supervision is underpinned by the notions of developing competent, accountable, ethically informed, effective practitioners to ensure the work of the organisation in providing professional support and appropriate services is carried out with maximum efficiency (Johnson, Gray, & Noble, 2016).

Four functions of supervision (according to the Morrison Model, 2010)

  • Professional development
  • Personal support
  • Accountability
  • Connection to the organisation

15. Child-focused supervision practice

16. Reflective practice

is:

  • our human way of making meaning in life (Merizow &Taylor, 2009)
  • particularly important in helping us all make sense of our own emotional responses to situations within our work
  • the bridge between information and wisdom.

We move from ‘reflection-in-action’ to ‘reflection-on-action’ (supervision) to ‘reflection-for-action’.

17. Reflexive questioning

  • A really useful skill both in the direct service work and in supervision
  • In their simplest form, these are questions which invite the responder to be reflective. Some examples:

For practitioners:

    • If your little one was to be asked ‘what’s wrong with Mummy?’ – what do you think he would say?

And for supervisors:

    • If you could say exactly what you are thinking to that Mum, what would you be saying? What’s it like to hear yourself say that? What do you imagine the response would be if you were to say that?

18. Child-focused philosophy

Child-focused approaches are:

  • Family sensitive
  • Child-inclusive
  • Strengths-based
  • Collaborative
  • Culturally competent
  • (And include the voices of the child, the family, and the practitioner).

19. How does supervision fit this philosophy?

Family sensitive and child inclusive:

  • The importance of thinking about the client and the child in terms of:
    • Context
    • Connectedness
  • The importance of the bigger picture.

Supervision itself needs to keep in mind a systemic focus; an awareness of the various aspects that could be focused on in order to be helpful to the practitioner and the client.

20. Text description: The Seven-Eyed Supervisor

1. Client - Goal: To help the supervisee connect different aspects of the client’s life.
2. Interventions - Goal: To increase the supervisee’s choices and skills in intervention
3. Councellor/Client Relationship - Goal: To help the supervisee ‘paint themselves into the picture’ of the dynamics.
4. The Councellor - Goal: To increase capacity to engage more effectively.
5. Supervisor/Supervisee Relationship - Goal: To review the relationship and surface unaware dynamics.
6. The Supervisor - Goal: Provides another source of information about the supervisory or client relationship.
7. The ‘Systems’ - Goal: To help develop a sense of contextual accountability.

21. Supervision that is child-focused

  • Making questions about the routine of client’s children
  • Encouraging curiosity via simple questions about the child, the experience of being a parent and the relationship
  • Bringing the child into the room (even when they’re not there)

Most of all, supervisors need to encourage practitioners to ‘consult’ their clients, to be interested and curious about their children, and to listen for the parents’ experience and wisdom. 

22. Strengths-based supervision

  • Supervision, like the work itself, needs to build on strengths and provide supportive challenges when needed.
  • In this way, the supervisor is not only working in a way which is consistent with a child-aware philosophy, but is modelling it for the practitioner.

One of the most useful resources in dealing with strengths and vulnerabilities for the practitioner is reflection, both for themselves and within supervision.

23. Collaborative supervision

  • A shared ‘journey’ – both for client & practitioner, and supervisee & supervisor
  • Begins at the very beginning
  • I strongly recommend a ‘pre-contracting conversation’ wherein both supervisor and supervisee can check out things like:
    • Their previous experiences of supervision, and their understanding of what makes it work well
    • The power differential, and the implications of this
    • If it’s not working for the practitioner, how will they let the supervisor know?

24. Cultural and spiritual identity

  • Understanding of the significance of this to the individual client and to the family is important
    as is
  • A thoughtful consideration of the implications of this for the work
  • It can be a challenge working across differences, but it is also important not to assume similarities, and not to either
    • Deny any difference – or
    • Attribute all difficulties to such a difference

Supervision also needs to hold this lens in thinking about issues of diversity between the client, the practitioner and the supervisor.

25. Child, family and practitioner voice

  • In the same way that supervisors are helping practitioners bring the child’s voice into the room; they need to listen for, encourage and respect the practitioner’s voice.
  • There are all sorts of reasons why practitioners might not disclose aspects of their feelings or their work.

What is most likely to lead to practitioners ‘opening up’ in supervision has less to do with the supervisor having power, and more to do with the willingness of the supervisor to open up.

26. Challenges

  • Attitudes (constraints for practitioners and supervisors)
    • This isn’t what I signed up for…’
  • Confidence
    • ‘I’m not a parent: what would I know?’
  • Skills
    • ‘I’m not a family therapist, okay?!’
  • Time
    • ‘I’ve already got enough on my plate…’
  • The authorising environment
    • ‘Sure it’s important to ask about children, but if I can’t get extra time/ training/supervision … I wonder how important it really is to the organisation!’

27. Relationships matter

  • When enquiring about the child, it is important to attend to information about the child’s relationship with parents and others (by asking specifically as well as by noticing how the parent speaks about the child).
  • It can happen that practitioners become either
    • Judgemental of parents
      or
    • So supportive that they may be blind to issues of concern, even risk.

In supervision, supervisors need to attend to the parent-child relationship, the client–practitioner relationship, as well as the supervisory relationship itself – quite an ask!

28. Organisational drivers that support child-focused supervision

29. Recruitment

  • The opportunity to provide key messages to potential staff from their first experience with the organisation – through job advertisements, position descriptions, interview questions and interview feedback
  • Moving the question from whether a practitioner can or should work in child-focused ways to how the organisation will support the new practitioner to work in child-focused ways 

30. Induction

‘Jack, the answers you gave during your interview provided us with a good understanding of your staff supervision skills. We are confident in your ability to develop staff confidence and skills in many aspects of the role. However, your answer to the question about child-focused supervision showed that this area of your work needs some further development.

There are numerous ways that our organisation supports supervisors to develop confidence in this area. We will make this a regular agenda item for your supervision with your manager. We will also provide some training on child-focused supervision, which we have scheduled for your first week in the new role.’

31. Supervision agreement

How can children be at the centre of this agreement in ways that prevent the establishment of conflictual or authoritative supervision?

  • In what ways will we work together to provide early intervention or prevention opportunities for children of our adult clients?
  • How will we know if entry points and opportunities are being found with adult clients to have child-focused conversations?
  • What will help the practitioner to bring new ideas about child-focused work to supervision? What will they look for from their supervisor?
  • What kind of supervisory relationship is likely to help children most? In what ways can we review this? How will we agree?

32. Practitioner competencies

How the stories are told can lead to closing or opening. When a therapist in supervision tells his or her story, the desire is often to be understood; one tries to speak in a way that suggests reason and possibly to legitimate what one has done and thought. This structure can lead to the closing of the story. Things have been legitimated and do not require any other perspectives. (Myra, 2017)

  • What are the organisational non-negotiables?
  • What is up for discussion/innovation?
  • How might we involve families in the development of innovative practice?

33. Client case reviews and child-specific data (a mix of qualitative and quantitative)

  • Demonstration of 100% of adult clients being asked if they are parents. 
  • Demonstration of 100% of parents being asked about their relationships with their children and their children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Demonstration of collaborative case management with an adult that has directly benefited their child’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Examples of eco-mapping and/or genograms being used to facilitate child-focused conversations.

34. Client evaluations

Qualitative and quantitative evaluations are crucial in understanding client experience and how individual staff and organisations can improve their practice. Quantitative evaluations can be completed by each client who accesses the service and can support the implementation of universal assessments regarding children.

Qualitative evaluations can include more in-depth conversations with clients about which aspects of the service helped improve their relationships with their children, and which were less helpful. These qualitative evaluations can be performed regularly by staff to help them critically evaluate their practice.

35. Beyond the supervision contest

Both supervisor and supervisee are participating in a joint research process of the supervisor’s affairs, with the intention to bringing to life more perspectives through which the supervisee may discover other, or new, solutions. (Bagge, 2017)

  • What is possible? What can be co-researched?
  • What does the organisation expect, is there room for change?
  • How would you make that change happen?
  • How would you know if the change is making a difference?
  • How can supervisee and supervisor partner as co-researchers in organisational change?

36. Q & A Discussion

37. Continue the conversation

Do you have any further questions? 

Please submit questions or comments on the online forum following today’s webinar:

aifs.gov.au/cfca/news-discussion

Audio transcript (edited): What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

MR DOLMAN: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to today's webinar, What is Child-Focused Supervision in Adult-Focused Services and how does it work, co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds. Hi, my name is Chris Dolman, I'm from Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health and I'm really delighted to be part of this presentation today. Today we'll be exploring child-focused supervision practices as well as other initiatives used by managers and supervisors and practitioners to create organisational context to support child-focused practice in adult services. We really figure today's presentation is for both supervisors and supervisees. I guess we understand supervision as a partnership between supervisors and supervisees and supported by the organisation and I guess we really consider that it's really what both partners can bring to supervision that can contribute to really rigorous child-focused practice. Both parties can play a role in shaping supervision.

So let's have a look at some of the learning objectives today in terms of this next hour or so. So we will be describing what characterises child-focused supervision practices and the responsibilities of organisations to support these. We'll be outlining some practitioner competencies that enable child-focused practice, and highlighting a range of really innovative and achievable processes that can support an organisation's commitment to child-focused practice. And we'll also be exploring some of the challenged that might well arise in the context of the supervision relationship in exploring child-focused practices. So that's what's ahead for the next hour or so. As we proceed both Emerging Minds and Child Family Community Australia recognise and pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their ancestors and the Elders past, present and future from the different First Nations right across this country. We certainly acknowledge the importance of connection to land and culture, spirituality, ancestry, family, community to support the wellbeing of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children as well. This webinar is the fourth in this series with a focus on infant and child mental health.

We've got a couple more coming up in the coming months, one webinar will be in relation to responding to Aboriginal children and families in the context of family violence. And a further one around cultural considerations when working with children and families. We've had three already which you might like to check out either on the CFCA website or the Emerging Minds website. The first one was around supporting children after natural and human-induced disasters. We had another one around considering the needs of children in practice when working with parents affected by alcohol and other drug use. And also the topic of parent/child play as a mental health promotion strategy. So that's kind of where we've been and where we're headed as well.

So it's now my pleasure to introduce you to our presenters for today. Their bios have already been provided to you and so I'm probably a bit more interested actually in extending on those and asking a question or two of both Pam and Dan who I welcome and I'm interested in hearing from both of you really about what it is that's really captured your interest in this particular area of practice, what it is that you've been drawn to around child-focused supervision and child-focused practice. So Pam, welcome.

MS RYCROFT: Thank you.

MR DOLMAN: Yeah, what is it that's drawn you to this particular area of work?

MS RYCROFT: Okay. Look supervision I've had an interest in for a long time Chris. I know it can feel like a huge responsibility, it's there to protect the welfare of our clients, but it's also very much about promoting, supporting, advancing the development of you know workers in the field. And it's got so many roles and responsibilities attached to it. And all too often I reckon supervisors are thrown into the job without lots of support or training. But it can be such a huge privilege. When you talked, you used the word 'partnership' before. When it works well I just love that it's a shared journey where both supervisee and supervisor share the challenges and the joys in the work, and there can be many, and learn from it. There's a phrase that I love, I think it's a fellow called Zachary, I learnt it from Michael Caroll who writes all about supervision and he talks about it as sitting at the feet of our own experience and learning from the work itself. And I guess today you know, child-focused supervision in an adult-focused service, that's kind of new to a lot of us I think. So it really got me stimulated in thinking what does that look like. So that's what I'm going to be reflecting on.

MR DOLMAN: Yeah thank you, yes looking forward to hearing your reflections and having conversations around those themes. Yes, what about for you Dan, welcome, what sort of has drawn you to this particular area of practice that interests you so much?

MR MOSS: Yes thank you Chris. And thank you Pam, I really appreciated your answer to that question and kind of had me thinking to my many experiences as both a supervisor and a supervisee over the last couple of decades, and yes the absolute privilege that that relationship can be where both parties enter into that in a spirit of partnership and goodwill. But also the challenges as part of that. I think probably as a younger supervisor I would often feel a lot of pressure to be the kind of purveyor of al knowledge or all kind of competencies that an organisation could hold, and I think that child-focused practices in adult-focused services is a really new and developing skill for many of us. There's lots of great and innovative work that I hear about as we go around the kitchen, but I think there are just so many fantastic innovative opportunities for organisations to come together and in fact for supervisees and supervisors to work together in partnership. Not only to increase the confidence and competence of individual practitioners, but to increase the knowledge and the skill of organisations themselves. So it really does stand as a really wonderful opportunity I think for all of us that are involved.

MR DOLMAN: Great, yes and thank you Dan, and thank you Pam, yes looking forward to what's ahead for us this next hour or so. So yes, please join me in giving them both a warm welcome. I'd now like to hand it over to our first presenter which is Dan going to begin by speaking about child-focused supervision in adult services.

MR MOSS: Yes thank you Chris. So the first thing that we really I suppose want to get clear about today is what do we mean by child-focused supervision. A definition which we use here at Emerging Minds is a structure of support that enables frontline workers and in fact organisations to identify and respond to the needs of clients children. It continually aims to build the capacity of adult-focused workers and is engrounded in reflective practice based on an organisational commitment to identify and respond to the needs of children. And really much of what I'll be talking about today is supported by a fairly in depth needs analysis that we did throughout 2017 and 18 here at Emerging Minds which really looked at what practitioners and what many practitioners in adult-focused services needed to increase their confidence and competence in asking adults questions around first of all whether they were parents, and if they were parents what they needed. What support they needed to be able to cater for the social and emotional wellbeing of their children.

And overwhelmingly when we ask this question of adult-focused practitioners, they tell us that this is an absolutely critical part of their role. They can all tell us stories of where they've been able to do this really well but also they've told us stories where there can be a lack of a cohesive understanding about whether this is actually part of their role. And that unless an organisation had an overarching commitment to the structures that were needed for child-focused practice, then sometimes it could be left to individual practitioners to decide how and where they invested in child-focused practices. Practitioners told us that with increasing KPIs and sometimes less time that they sometimes felt they didn't have the space to work in child-focused ways, that there were lots of challenges that came up in asking adults these questions. And sometimes their confidence or competence could be affected by this.

Overwhelmingly what practitioners told us is what they appreciated about supervisors or what they didn't get from supervisors was the ability to be able to engage in critical conversations and structures which increased their confidence and competence in working in child-focused ways. So what we know, and this will be telling many of you absolutely nothing because you will already know it, but in adult-focused services at the moment, there's an increase both of adults coming in where their own issues of adversity are affecting the social and emotional wellbeing of their children, or in fact in many instances like homelessness services, where children are actually presenting as part of a family. We know in post-separation services additionally that so many parents are now the first time they're meeting with a post-separation practitioner, being really clear of the issues such as family violence and how they're affecting their children.

So some of the work for example that Relationships Australia are doing through the Family Doors Evaluation, tells us that when we ask parents about the effects of their adversity on children, they will absolutely in most cases give honest and forthright answers. We know for example from the National Household Drug Survey that probably about one in five parents either as a couple or single parents, are drinking at levels which are risky and risky enough to affect the social and emotional wellbeing of children. So we know that there are greater numbers out there of children who are affected by parents' experiences of adversity now more than any time in our history. We now that there are now more parents with acute issues that are using the services that we all work in. There are more children themselves attending services. But still what we also know is that there are many children out there who are not getting the services that they need.

Emerging Minds, for example, has been developed from some really important information gleaned from the 2015 Young Mind Matters survey. They found that one in seven children aged between four and eleven years met the criteria for at least one diagnosis of mental health difficulty. What we also know is that one in six of these children with mental health conditions access a service within a 12 month period. So we know that there are many children out there who as a system we need to work to be able to provide early intervention and prevention opportunities so that they are connected with the service that they need. So how can child-focused supervision help this? Again overwhelmingly what we hear from practitioners is that child-focused supervision needs to be a cog in the wheel of an organisational commitment to making children's mental health everybody's business. We need to ensure that child-focused practice is measurable and achievable and that there's a roadmap for all practitioners to follow in adult-focused services. So again it's not left to the individual confidence or competence of often fairly new practitioners. To help practitioners discuss areas of development, good honest child-focused supervision is really required. And as we probably mentioned before, there needs to be an organisational culture developed where learning is embraced. That practitioners, what we know about practitioners, is they don't come to our services fully formed. That there's a learning journey that they need to go on to get to where they need as practitioners, and as organisations and supervisors we need to be able to help them with that.

So what is good supervision? So I've just used a quote here from Johnston, Gray and Noble which I quite like which talks about 'Good supervision being underpinned by the notions of developing competent, accountable, ethically informed, effective practitioners to ensure that the work of the organisation is providing professional support and appropriate services carried out with maximum efficiency.' And in terms of models of supervision, it's really heartening to see that there are many models proliferating in the last couple of decades. I really like a model by a guy called Tony Morrison who in 2010 developed a model thinking about the four functions of supervision, and there are now many variations on this. But Tony Morrison talked about the need for all practitioners to be engaged in professional development as a part of supervision, that their personal support needs are required, that they have an accountability as Pam mentioned, a real accountability to the clients that they meet with. And of course to the children of the clients they meet with. And that practitioners are acting and carrying out their work in a way that's commensurate with the organisational values and practice positions.

MR DOLMAN: Thanks Dan for really setting that context particularly around child mental health being everyone's business and therefore every organisation's business to ensure they support practitioners to work well adults with parents where children are implicated in sort of what's going on in the family and are affected by those adversities. And being really clear also about therefore what is good supervision. And Pam is going to expand on that theme a bit now, Pam, if I could hand that over to you to talk a bit more about what is good supervision, what is good child-focused supervision practice.

MS RYCROFT: Yes thanks Chris. So, first of all, I want to sit with this idea of reflective practice. Dan mentioned earlier that child-focused supervision is grounded in reflective practice. Now there's lots of various – lots of structured processes that are called reflective practice, but I think what we're talking about here is a kind of quality of ongoing supervision where we're students of the work itself and I love that particular phrase on the slide that refers to reflective practice as the bridge between information and wisdom. It's that capacity to sit back from the work and it highlights that supervision is just beautifully placed to encourage and support this. Now it was a real surprise to me that not everybody actually reflects naturally and also there are various levels of reflection, but it's such a central and important skill. And I've sometimes asked myself the question can we teach reflection as supervisors. Now I'm not sure about the answer to that but what I do know is that as supervisors we can model it and we can invite it, which takes me to the next slide which is about how we might invite this and this idea of reflective questioning. Now in its simplest form, it's simply questions that invite the other to be reflective, to reflect. It's an incredibly useful skill.

And it takes me back, like I think questioning is a very basic skill and I think it's been underdone in our theorising and literature. I've often reflected on questioning itself. There are two very broad reasons I think that as professionals we ask questions. One is to gain information for our own purposes, you know, maybe to formulate, to understand, to diagnose whatever. Mostly for us as I say. But the other main reason for asking questions is to actually embed different possibilities. So more interventive questioning if you like. So there are a couple of examples on the slide but if there's a hint about what makes for a good reflective question, very, very often it does start with 'if'. So yes, if your little one was to be asked what's wrong with mum, what do you think he would say? And for supervisors if you could say exactly what you're thinking to that mum, what would you be saying and then what's it like to hear yourself say that, what do you imagine the response would be. So just exploring future possibilities.

So I wanted to just say that before I move to a more general kind of thinking about, so what does a broad child-focused supervision look like. When I was thinking about this I had to look to the Institute of Family Studies website and the Emerging Minds website and the Let's Talk Philosophy. And these are the principles that emerged from that and throughout these you will probably see that what's not spelt out there but what's very embedded in there is building strong relationships and I will come back to that at the very end because I think that is central to all of this. So I'm not going to – I'm going to kind of go through each of these fairly quickly and if I go too quickly there's the opportunity for questions that we can come back to at the end. So yes, how do we as supervisors fit with a broad child-focused philosophy. Well, being family sensitive and child inclusive, for me basically means finding ways to get beyond individual presentations, the individual client, the symptoms, the presentation, the issues, and looking to the bigger picture.

So thinking about clients in all different aspects of context, so that might involve cultural context, gender, age, SES, development, and also their relational connectedness. What's great in order to do this, and it won't be any news to any of you out there I'm sure, genograms, ecomaps. In supervision something that I use a lot if there's a complex story, a complex family or a complex network of agencies and professionals involved, I love to use objects. So sometimes I have – I have collected some nice kind of objects from $2 shops that can come to represent different family members or organisations. But you can use anything. You can use teabags and glasses and you know whatever is in your room just to place things in relationship to each other. And I don't know if any of you have ever done this but it's a fantastic way for supervisor and supervisee to stand back from the broader system, being very careful of course to include the worker in that system, where does the worker fit in. And it's a great way to get that bigger picture. And you can also play with it and ask questions like, 'How would you love it to be if you could have the impact that you want to have in the work, what would be different?'

Okay, so moving on. Supervision itself also I believe needs to take a kind of systemic, a broad wide-angle lens I sometimes call it. And for this reason, what is on this slide is a kind of summary of a model that I'm not particularly promoting but I like it because it holds me accountable to my own supervision in that it's now known as the seven eyed supervisor. I think it was originally called the double matrix model which just reflects that there are two systems. There's the client and the professional, the practitioner, overlapping with that practitioner becomes the supervisee and then there's the system that's the supervisee and the supervisor. And supervision can focus on very different aspects of the work. So these are the seven eyes if you like. Now a lot of supervision that I've experienced just sticks with No.1 or No.2. So supervision can spend the whole time just talking about the client or just talking about what the practitioner has been trying to do with the client.

But there are also these other aspects that are really important sometimes in supervision and the authors of this particular model, Hawkins and Shohet, would say that good supervision covers all of these. Probably not at the same time because that's challenging but over time we should be aware as supervisors of keeping our eyes on these different aspects of the work. And it raises for me the question of who decides what is talked about in supervision. All too often I think as supervisors we can get stuck on our own preferences or our practice habits. So, for example, I am fascinated by relational issues, and I can get stuck on No.3. I get really interested in what's happening between the client and the supervisee, practitioner. But that's my preference, it might not be all that helpful to the supervisee. So negotiating that together is something that I always enjoy to do at the beginning of supervision. But yes supervision also needs to be systemic.

So moving along. Supervision that's child-focused makes questions about children routine. I think that's obvious by now. It involves sitting alongside the client I reckon and interviewing the client as a parent. Asking about the kids, asking about any concerns, celebrations, strengths. It's important it's not just about concerns I reckon. But also asking about the relationship, how the adult client experiences being a parent, how they believe their children see them as a parent. Again genograms, stories, those reflective questions can be really useful in bringing the child's voice into the room. So for instance, if Toby was here, this is for the practitioner, asking the adult client, 'If Toby was here and I was to ask him what he loves most about spending time with you, what do you think he would say?' So the parent may not be able to directly answer that, that doesn't matter, but it gets her or him thinking about oh I wonder what they would say. May even ask the child. But it opens up the child, brings the child potentially into the room if they can't physically be there.

MR DOLMAN: Can I just ask Pam, like in terms of asking those questions - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: - - - of practitioners - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yep.

MR DOLMAN: - - - as well, like what is it you're sort of hoping that will contribute to practitioners' work or understandings by ensuring those questions are part of supervision?

MS RYCROFT: Well yes to the practitioners themselves.

MR DOLMAN: Yeah.

MS RYCROFT: It does two things I think Chris, well I'm hoping it does two things at the same time. It actually gets the practitioner curious about that child's voice and interested in okay yeah the bigger picture if you like. I wonder what it is like for that little person and what is the impact say of that mum's mental illness on that little person. And it also models at the same time that kind of questioning that hopefully the practitioner can take into their own work - - -

MR DOLMAN: Yes.

MS RYCROFT: - - - and ask for themselves. Because it's not – that kind of reflective questioning doesn't readily necessarily slip off the tongue but once you start to kind of get – you're guided by your own curiosity and genuine interest and that's important. So sometimes I do ask supervisees, 'What is it that you really would love to know about that little person and about what little person thinks?' And if that can be the guide then it will lead to some good reflective questions.

MR DOLMAN: Great thank you.

MS RYCROFT: I reckon Dan said something earlier too about how he used to put pressure on himself to be the expert if you like and to know everything that needs to be known. And I think this is – part of the message today is we need practitioners, as well as supervisors, need to take the pressure off themselves to be the expert but learn if they don't already, feel they can use their expertise in this way. It's much more about using their expertise to consult the client as a parent and to find – to look and listen for the parent's wisdom.

MR DOLMAN: Thank you for that.

MS RYCROFT: Welcome. Strength-based supervision. I reckon we all like to think we're strength-based and hopefully, we are. What I would like to kind of highlight here from this slide is that being strength-based doesn't mean that we ignore vulnerabilities. I love the Emerging Minds use of those terms, strengths and vulnerabilities rather than strengths and weaknesses. We all have vulnerabilities, don't we know it. And just as good direct service work deals with both of those, so does good supervision. And I reckon it's actually a strength to let knowledge and work with vulnerabilities if that makes sense. It's a really useful skill in the work and in supervision to be able to challenge supportively. Yes, I don't know if that makes sense but a quick example, something like, 'Tell me if I'm wrong but it sounds like' – this is in supervision – 'but it sounds like this client is touching a sensitive spot for you, it's pushing a button for you. Would that be true, what's it like for you working with them?' So going to that eye if you like of the seven eyes that is the practitioner herself or himself, and looking at what's the impact of working with this client. I hope that makes sense.

MR DOLMAN: Yes.

MS RYCROFT: Moving to collaborative supervision. Again it's a great word and we all kind of think that this is a good thing and it is to work collaboratively. What does it mean, what does it look like in supervision? I think it does refer to what I said at the very beginning and what Dan said too about partnership and a collaborative, a shared journey. And it's as true for client and practitioner as well as for supervisee and supervisor and I reckon it's really important that it begins at the very beginning. I know – I think Dan is going to go on and talk a bit about more formal agreements or contracting, but there's a conversation that I love to have with prospective supervisees if you like, apart from just sussing each other out and figuring out whether we're the right person for each other, whether we're going to work well together. I think there are some terrific kind of shared experiences that make for beginning this collaboration. So you know previous experiences of supervision are being clear about the fact that we can't ever be without the power differential that's involved in supervision. And if supervisors are both clinical supervisors and managers, that's kind of a double power differential if you like. Some people want to try and ignore it but I think much more useful is to acknowledge it and look at the implications together, what will that be like for you, what might it get in the way of. And questions like if supervision isn't working for you how will you let me know. Yes, so setting a culture of collaboration begins well before the actual formal contract. This is an important principle that comes up in all the guidelines and of course, we know very well that a strong sense of cultural and spiritual identities is really important to anybody's mental health. And there's so much that could be said here it's really hard to sum it up in a slide. So I feel kind of yeah, it's difficult.

But what I do want to say is working across difference culturally or in any way, can be both challenging and stimulating. There are two very common things I think that I've put on this slide that I do see happening that are kind of leanings for the right reasons. So some people like to deny any difference, and I think that's out of wanting to see people as totally equal. Or they want to attribute all difficulties to such a difference. And so what's important I think here is for all of us in that triangle that is the client, the practitioner and the supervisor but particularly the practitioner and the supervisor to be really reflective about our own cultural background, our own stories, the values and beliefs and so forth that are influencing our approach to the work. So again (loss of transmission) together is really important. Okay. Bringing the different voices into the work, incredibly important. We talked earlier or I talked earlier about listening for the child's voice, finding ways to hear that. But similarly, as supervisors we need to really listen carefully to the practitioner's voice and that means listening for what's not said as well as what is said. There are all sorts of reasons why practitioners might not disclose their feelings about the work. And we need, as supervisors we need our supervisees to be open to talking about their vulnerabilities as well as strengths.

Now there's a beaut bit of research that I just want to mention here. Because there's been a kind of assumption that if a supervisor is in a dual role that as a manager as well as a supervisor, they may be – that might mean that their supervisees are less likely to open up. Hannah Kreider in 2014 did a beaut little piece of research, and to summarise, she found that a supervisor who shares her or his experiences, their observations and thinking, will increase the likelihood that the supervisee will also disclose more in supervision. So it's got much less to do with that dual role or the power differential if you like and much more to do with what we model as supervisors, that's the gist of that. I want to draw to a close with this next slide, next couple of slides. Firstly going back a slide to challenges, thanks Chris. This is an attempt just to summarise the kind of broad if you like a group of challenges that I've come across and I'm not going to tackle all of these at the moment. And I'm pleased to say that one about attitudes, I have heard it so much in the past about this isn't what I signed up for, this isn't part of my role. And it's really encouraging that that seems not to be the case from the needs assessment that Dan made reference to earlier, but I can well understand that confidence and skills can be a challenge, both for supervisors and practitioners if they're not – if they're working in adult services and they haven't had a lot of experience in child work, the best anti - - -

MR DOLMAN: Actually, sorry, sorry to interrupt.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah, no go.

MR DOLMAN: There has been a question that's come through about when supervisees, when practitioners feel as though that they're not a skilled practitioner in working with families.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: I guess you've captured that there, but I'm not a family therapist, that kind of response.

MS RYCROFT: Yes, yeah, yeah.

MR DOLMAN: Yeah as a supervisor there's some ways that you've found to respond to those kind of responses - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: - - - from practitioners, from supervisees.

MS RYCROFT: Sure look the best antidote that I know Chris, that I can say is that is to free oneself again from being expert to actually – I know it's a bit of a paradox, it takes a bit of confidence to be less than totally confident. You know, to be able to say sometimes I don't know, but let's find out together, you know, I can help with this, you know. You can be curious and interested and you can be consultative and we can learn together about this. Whether that's – whether we're talking about the supervisor with the supervisee or whether we're talking about a practitioner with a client, it's that openness to not necessarily having to be expert but again using expertise to deal with the situation in a collaborative and consultative way. Does that make sense?

MR DOLMAN: Yes it does, yeah, yeah. I think paying attention yeah to sort of how you sort of even regard your own expertise and your own role I guess in that work with the family or work with a parent.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah. And the other - - -

MR DOLMAN: Yeah, sorry.

MS RYCROFT: Go on. The other thing I wanted to say is that what we can all forget is how some simple things just make a huge difference. So just I think I often find myself coming back to those really basic things, just like really listening. That comment, 'I'm not a family therapist' okay, I've heard more than once when I've been working to get people to work more relationally when they're very used to working with individual clients. And it can be you know, it can be a bit daunting. But those basic skills that are listening well, being interested, genuine curiosity, you know they make a huge difference to people. And helping people talk to each other and if you are in the position of working with more than one person at the same time. Sorry, what were you going to say Chris?

MR DOLMAN: I was just interested too, I know you've got a strong emphasis around relationships being important too - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: - - - all of those different relationships that are implicated I think that work with families.

MS RYCROFT: Yep indeed, yeah. So to finish this part of it, I just want to say that come back, right back to that, that it is really central. I think relationships need to be safe enough that people can be vulnerable and open, especially that's the case, well as much the case in supervision as in the work. And also supportive enough so that challenge and growth are possible. So supervisors are in a position where they're keeping in mind a whole network of relationships as I've said in the last bit of that slide. It's a big ask, and again it's challenging but it's a terrific privilege, and it's important to remember self-care as well both for practitioners and for supervisors. I don't know how many – not many organisations I think provide supervision of supervision but it's really possible like I have a group that I meet with where it's called SOGS, supervision of group supervision.

MR DOLMAN: Right.

MS RYCROFT: My buddies meet with me and we deal with some of the challenges together which is great. So - - -

MR DOLMAN: That provides a lovely segue into some of what Dan Moss will be speaking to us about now - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yeah terrific.

MR DOLMAN: - - - in terms of some of those organisational supports that can - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yes exactly.

MR DOLMAN: - - - provide a context for that child-focused supervision.

MS RYCROFT: Indeed.

MR DOLMAN: Thank you so much, there are a couple of questions that have come through for you but we'll leave those just for now, we'll come back to those.

MS RYCROFT: Okay terrific.

MR DOLMAN: Yeah Dan to you.

MR MOSS: Yeah thanks Chris. Yeah so at Emerging Minds we're really interested and have done quite a bit of work in talking about some of the organisational drivers that support child-focused supervision. And again coming back to that idea that the child-focused supervision doesn't happen in isolation. It happens as a broader organisational commitment to working in child-focused ways in adult-based services. And it starts from recruitment. So at recruitment, this is really as an organisation our first opportunity to be providing some messages to our future staff members about what we're on about. So through our job advertisements, through our position descriptions, interview questions, and even interview feedback. This is really our first opportunity to moving the question away from will you practice in a child-focused way and into the realm of we will help you to work in a child-focused way. And then through induction. So I've added a question or a piece of feedback there that we might be able to provide as the impetus for an induction conversation with a new staff member.

I won't go through the whole text but really the gist of this is how can we have some conversations with new practitioners and how can new practitioners be able to have conversations themselves around what it's going to take to support this practitioner to work in child-focused ways. What are their current understandings and what would they like to know more about. And this of course, as Pam was alluding to, is where the supervision agreement comes in. And the agreement between the supervisee and supervisor is you know becoming much more important as we think about the development of supervision, particularly in child-focused ways. So this is really a chance for supervisors and practitioners, a bit like what Pam was saying, to really kind of espouse what works for them, what helps them to learn in the best possible ways. And how are they going to bring the child's voice into the room to help that supervision arrangement get more solid and for them to be able to work in more innovative and proactive ways.

This idea of practitioner competencies again is a really important one. So I think it's really important that all adult-focused organisations have a list of ways that they'd like practitioners to aim for, that these are aspirational rather than set in stone. And that through supervision both the practitioner and the supervisor have a way of adding to these, have a way of adding innovation to making sure that the story of child-focused practice and child-focused competencies within any organisation is a dynamic one. It's not – doesn't become just a tick and flick exercise. Because how the stories are told as per this, by Myra, can lead to closing or opening. When a therapist in supervision tells his or her story, the desire is often to be understood. One tries to speak in a way that suggests reason and possibly to legitimate what one has done and thought. This structure can lead to the closing of the story. Things have been legitimised and do not require any other perspectives.

What we're really talking about today and what Pam has talked about so well, is being able to add to the story, being able to create new stories because we know that child-focused practice it's really just at the beginning of where it needs to be. We know that there are so many children of adult clients that come to see us who badly require services, who badly require support with their social and emotional wellbeing. How can we use supervision to be an impetus for ways that children gain the services that they need. And a part of this, client case reviews and child-specific data, and many services and organisations are now doing such a fantastic job of getting better at thinking about the data that they create. So taking the responsibility for child-focused practice out of the hands of individual supervisions, taking that responsibility out of their hands and into an organisational realm so that the data helps to support conversations about why or why not child-focused conversations are happening. And if they're not happening it's not about within supervision chastising or lecturing a practitioner, it's again about helping them to understand and highlight the challenges that might be getting in the way of these conversations. And there are a mix of qualitative and quantitative evaluations that services are now using really well to be able to kind of bring children's voices as central into understanding service delivery. And in fact what organisations would like to change or in fact like to improve upon in service delivery.

I'd kind of just like to end today. We all know that there's often a great deal of contest in supervision, lots of often contestable facts. I mean Pam mentioned before about whether or not a manager should be supervising staff. We really think that child-focused supervision is a way that everybody, regardless of whether they're a manager, supervisor or a practitioner and work together in co-researching new ways, new innovative ways of practice which are going to create change. And that this is part of an organisational commitment to espousing what they expect, what's non-negotiable but then what are the opportunities to involve the voices of children, involve the voices of parents in creating change, positive change within organisations. And I'll just leave you with that point, what we're really looking for is an environment where both supervisor and supervisee are participating in a joint research process of the supervisors affairs with the intention to bringing alive more perspectives through which the supervisee and the organisation for that matter, may discover other or new solutions.

MR DOLMAN: And your supervision being expansive, you know expanding and innovative in terms of the contribution it can make to child-focused practice more broadly within organisations I guess. I thank you Dan for that. Sweep of some of the organisational practices that can really support the supervisors and supervisees to work in partnership well with that. We have had some questions that have been coming through for both Pam and Dan and so we'll turn our attention to some of those now. So to both of you, there's a question in relation - from the position of the supervisor I think. So how do you work with a supervisee who is worried about like losing an adult client if a report is made to Child Protection authorities about the child's behaviour. How do you kind of respond to those concerns of the supervisee? So, Dan or Pam, either of you like to respond to that?

MS RYCROFT: Can I come in there?

MR DOLMAN: Yeah thanks.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah. Yeah look it's a beauty because I think that's what often does get in the way of looking at you know we were talking about strengths and vulnerabilities and it's so important that practitioners don't ignore issues of concern and risk. But often what worries them is that if they do talk about or if they even raise those questions that it will have an impact on their relationship with the client. Look the best, again the best way I know to do that as a supervisor to encourage that is just that a kind of gentle enquiry into the concerns, what are your fears to the supervisee. What do you fear happening. And just modelling again some ways to enquire with the client herself, with the parent a way to kind of challenge supportively and to consult the parent about their own concerns for that child. Because that's – that's the shared kind of motivation. And so you know, again it might take some role playing, it might take some kind of modelling some useful questions but sitting together and exploring what does get in the way, what would be helpful to you that will encourage you to enquire further. And supporting. You know there might be times that a notification is necessary. We can do notifications to protective services with our clients keeping them – helping them to take a part in that and not doing it behind backs. And maintaining a collaboration with them. It's sensitive and tricky sometimes but it's eminently possibly and supervision could be central in that.

MR DOLMAN: Thank you Pam. Dan, do you have a response to that question as well?

MR MOSS: Yeah I think much along the lines of Pam. It's really my belief that you know particularly in practice-based fields that good supervisors have often developed the skills to be – to ask really sensitive and proactive questions. You know, as Pam was talking about, the art of the question can sometimes be a but undertone. And I think it's particularly underdone in supervision a lot because we know that practitioners aren't our clients as supervisors. But how can we help provide the scaffolding that opens up new realisations to practitioners without actually telling them what we think they're doing right or wrong. I think that's a really important question within any supervisory relationship and there's often a balance there between not noticing things and being too punitive or too didactic in our approach. So really a bit like Pam was saying, being able to develop that relationship, hopefully over a period of time with good structures, good induction probation, supervision agreements, really lends itself to being able to have those really gentle conversations.

MR DOLMAN: Thank you. It kind of leads me into another question that's come through around for practitioners that are working in sectors where there is a strong emphasis on adults being the ones that are centred in the work, whether that's NDIS or other sectors. And questions around so what can be done to enhance child-focused practices where kind of there are sector influences on the organisation even.

MR MOSS: Yep.

MR DOLMAN: And therefore on the supervisor and supervisee, influences that sort of encourage more of adult-focused practice where there are children. Do either of you have some reflections around that?

MR MOSS: Yeah. I could talk about my reflections (audio malfunction). Sorry yeah I can think of certainly some aspects of ways in adult-focused services that an absolute focus on the adult has probably disqualified some questions that we might be asking about children. And the impact that might have on us not being able to ask the questions about the totality of an adult's life, about not being able to ask them about their parenting experience which so often provides rich insightful information for us to be asking questions to parents. So I think for me the main aspect of that is for all of us to be united in the belief that questions about someone's child for me, for you, for most of us who have got children, is a primary motivating factor in reasons that we want to change our lives, reasons that we want to be the best adults that we possibly can be. And so I think that there are a real emphasis or onus on supervision and organisations to be able to put that first and forefront in the minds of all of our practitioners.

MR DOLMAN: Yes and so there's still despite those sector-wide constraints, there are still these opportunities that exist don't they - - -

MR MOSS: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: - - - that it doesn't have to subtract from practice, child-focused practice doesn't have to subtract from, in fact, it adds to a broader emphasis.

MR MOSS: Yeah absolutely.

MR DOLMAN: Great thank you Dan. There's been some questions about supervision agreements and templates. I think perhaps we might leave those questions, we can put something on the webpage - - -

MR MOSS: Yeah absolutely.

MR DOLMAN: - - - about that as well. Yeah Pam there's also some questions that have come through about other responses practitioners might make to child-focused enquiries from the supervisor. Questions that are more reflected in terms of some which might pose challenges I guess for the supervisor. And it is in relation to practitioners business, I think you flagged that a bit as well and Dan has as well. You know, when practitioners decline to or have concerns about child-focused practice because of kind of the business involved with their work.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: Do you have sort of some reflections about responding to those as well?

MS RYCROFT: Yeah. I wonder if it is. Look you know people are busy, there are a lot of pressures on practitioners but sometimes I do wonder if it's about business or if there are other kind of constraints for them. So again it takes me to that kind of gentle enquiry from the supervisor to the supervisee about just exactly what it is that's getting in the way of asking – of consulting the adult client as a parent. And yeah, just their experience of ever having done that and what that's like for them, and just being open to all the things that can possibly get in the way 'cause they're real and it's okay that some people find it you know difficult, not easy. It's just breaking down I suppose those constraints and actually coming back maybe to the question of how does that practitioner see that aspect of the work. It maybe that they haven't really acknowledged how important it is for them. And that might need a conversation too. So it's slowing things down, having the supervisor really work hard to hear and understand that practitioner's difficulty with it I think.

MR DOLMAN: Yes that's - - -

MS RYCROFT: It sounds easy.

MR DOLMAN: It sounds easy but still you've offered some sort of ways forward in relation to responding to some of those concerns that practitioner have. And maybe yeah there's something they feel las though the supervisor isn't kind of understanding about their work or their workload - - -

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: - - - that has them offering these concerns up as a reason as well.

MS RYCROFT: Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: So yeah. In terms of there's been another question about competencies Dan, in relation to what you spoke about before for practitioners. We've got to finish in the next couple of minutes. But yeah when you think about practitioner competencies that are required to do this work are there other sort of you know are there other things you'd like to mention in terms of what it is that can support what practitioners – can support practitioners work in child-focused ways in terms of competencies?

MR MOSS: Yeah I think there are. I think overall I think our competencies often relate very closely to our values as practitioners. And I think that a strong values base within any adult-focused service is really important that involves asking ourselves what do we want. What's the intent and the purpose of our service. And often we can think in terms of either stopping someone from gambling or preventing them from using violence in the future. But there's an interconnectedness that we might be missing if we look at that very narrow focus about how each of the adults that come to see us are more generally in the world about the hopes and that they have for their relationships about the people they want to be, about the partners they kind of what to be. And really important about the parents they want to be. And I think once we can help all of our practitioners to be thinking about that in a broader more universal way, I think that's a really motivating factor for their service provision no matter in what sector they're in.

MR DOLMAN: Ensuring that practitioners are asking adults, asking parents about the importance of their parenting to them, the importance of you know some of the hopes they might have for their children.

MR MOSS: Yeah. Yeah.

MR DOLMAN: This actually can add to the work then.

MR MOSS: Yeah so we want to kind of build a workforce don't we that's got an almost unquenchable thirst to learn about what's happening in their client's lives and you know, undoubtedly the most important things that are happening in any of the lives of adults who are parents, it's invariably what's happening for their children.

MR DOLMAN: Great, yeah thank you. We're out of time folks, we need to finish. Thank you, everyone, for tuning into this webinar today. I'd like to also really thank our presenters, Daniel Moss and Pam Rycroft for your contributions to our understandings of child-focused practice and really keeping this conversation going amongst adult-focused services, supervisors and practitioners. So thank you again everyone and we look forward to your company again next time.

WEBINAR CONCLUDED

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - PLEASE READ

The transcript is provided for information purposes only and is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the transcript undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. Before using the material contained in the transcript, the permission of the relevant presenter should be obtained.

The Commonwealth of Australia, represented by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), is not responsible for, and makes no representations in relation to, the accuracy of this transcript. AIFS does not accept any liability to any person for the content (or the use of such content) included in the transcript. The transcript may include or summarise views, standards or recommendations of third parties. The inclusion of such material is not an endorsement by AIFS of that material; nor does it indicate a commitment by AIFS to any particular course of action.

This webinar was held on Wednesday 26 February 2020. 

Practitioners face a number of challenges when talking with parents about how their children's mental health and wellbeing may be affected by the issues they are seeking or need support for. These challenges may mean that child-focused conversations are not always evident in practice, despite clear intentions, and that possible concerns about children’s wellbeing are not responded to.

Staff need to be supported by robust organisational processes and practices that plan, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of child-focused practice. Supportive, accountable and reflective supervision processes are an essential, but sometimes elusive, element in supporting staff to develop child-focused competencies.

This webinar explored child-focused supervision practices, and presented other initiatives used by managers, supervisors and practitioners in creating an organisational context to support child-focused practice in adult services. This webinar assisted practitioners who work with parents in adult-focused services through:

  • describing what characterises child-focused supervision practices and the responsibilities of organisations to support these
  • outlining practitioner competencies that enable child-focused practice
  • highlighting a range of innovative and achievable processes that support an organisation’s commitment to child-focused practice
  • exploring some of the challenges that may arise in the context of the supervision relationship when exploring child-focused practices in adult services.

Related resources


This webinar was co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds in a series focusing on children’s mental health. They are working together as part of the Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

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About the presenters

Pam Rycroft

Pam trained as a psychologist, specialised in family therapy in the mid 1980s, and joined The Bouverie Centre after having worked in mainstream psychiatry. She has published on her work in the areas of single session work, grief and families, grief and mental illness, the impact of suicide, engaging workers in family work, and on the place of theory in practice. Pam has held a central role in developing and teaching Bouverie's six-day clinical supervision training program. She also developed a series of online modules on supervision as part of the Statewide Supporting Practice Leaders (SPLice) project in Victoria. Her own experience in supervision began with 'Bug-in-the-ear supervision' in the early 1980s. She has been offering live and reported supervision to individuals and groups since the mid-1980s. It continues to be her passion.

Dan Moss

Dan is the Workforce Development Manager at Emerging Minds. Prior to this role, he worked as Assistant Director, Performance, Reporting and Evaluation at the Department for Child Protection, SA. In this role he worked closely with the Early Intervention Research Directorate to explore the social determinants of child disadvantage and child protection involvement. Previously, Dan worked for Uniting Communities for 15 years, as a practitioner, supervisor and senior manager in a range of services with children, parents and families dealing with the effects of family violence, child sexual abuse, mental health conditions and drug and alcohol use. As a practitioner, Dan had a strong interest in narrative and strength-based engagement strategies with children, parents and families.

Questions and comments

Can we please have the reference to the research that Pam mentioned that was undertaken by Hannah Kreider?
Jacqui
Hannah D. Kreider (2014) Administrative and Clinical Supervision: The Impact of Dual Roles on Supervisee Disclosure in Counseling Supervision, The Clinical Supervisor, 33:2.
Pam
Will Emerging Minds be making available a framework that organisations can embrace?
Karen
Emerging Minds has available a practice paper ‘Six ways to support child-focused practice in adult services’, which provides examples of documents and procedures from recruitment, induction, supervision and case review processes that can be adapted by adult services to support child focussed practices. It is primarily written for managers, supervisors and human resources departments. It is available at https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/six-ways-to-support-child-focused-practice-in-adult-services/
Dan
Emerging Minds has also released a podcast ‘Child-focused practice in adult-focused services’ which explores some of the implementation drivers at Relationships Australia South Australia that promote child-focused practice in services which mainly work with adults. Jonathon Main, Executive General Manager of Policy and Programs shares his insights on how screening, assessment, practice policy, recruitment and supervision all have a role to play in ensuring that children’s social and emotional wellbeing is at the forefront of all adult-focused service delivery. https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/podcast/child-focused-practice-in-adult-focused-services/
Dan