Most of us will have experienced some form of supervision within our studies or career, or maybe even had the responsibility for supervising others. These arrangements may have been structured or they may have been more informal and developed organically. Within the team at Sarah Buckley Therapies Ltd. we hold supervision in high regard and strive to deliver quality supervision for all our staff.
What is supervision?
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) defines supervision as ‘the formal arrangement that enables you to discuss your work regularly with someone who is experienced and qualified’ (November 2017).
This type of supervision can be referred to as ‘Professional supervision’ or ‘Clinical supervision’. This sits separately from any kind of managerial supervision or line management. Professional supervision provides ring-fenced time to focus on the needs of the therapist. Sessions can cover a range of topics from specific client queries, supporting decision making as well as promoting staff wellbeing.
Supervision may take the form of:
• One to one sessions: therapists discuss their work with ‘someone who is experienced and qualified’ (2017).
• Group supervision: multiple therapists discuss their work with one identified supervisor.
• Peer supervision: therapists meet to discuss their work with each other with no, one therapist taking the role of formal supervisor.
With all three types of supervision these can be conducted face to face, on the phone or through other modes such as skype.
How does it benefit me?
As a therapist the value of regular, quality supervision is huge. Here are just a few benefits to therapists:
• Supervision provides a non-judgemental environment in which to encourage reflective practice. It provides regular opportunities to celebrate achievements and jointly problem solve potential issues.
• It is an opportunity to develop skills and increase confidence engaging in multi-disciplinary working and managing novel situations.
• It provides a supportive role in enabling therapists to link theory with practice and draw on evidence based practice.
With these benefits it is not surprising to learn that ‘supervision has been associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, improved retention, reduced turnover and staff effectiveness’ (November 2017)
As well as these benefits supervision is also pivotal to an individuals continuing professional development and therefore adhering to HCPC standards.
Whilst the RCSLT continues to promote the importance and value of supervision, I think its fair to say a number of misconceptions still exist.
• “My time is better spent with clients”: As is often the case there is never enough time in the day to complete all the things we want to do and therefore we have to prioritise tasks. Whilst some may feel their time is best spent face-to-face with clients the RCSLT point out ‘Supervision is important to service user safety. This has been highlighted in a number of recent health service reviews, for example, the Winterbourne View Hospital final report’
• “I am an experienced therapist, I don’t need supervising”: Whilst ‘on the job’ experience will provide therapists with the confidence and skills to work with a range of clients it is crucial that as clinicians we continue to take time to review our practice in order to continue to develop our skills. The RCSLT state ‘Supervision is essential as a place for exploring personal and emotional reactions to work. These occur regardless of levels of experience or length of time working’.
• “As a newly qualified practitioner (NQP) I am worried about working for an independent organisation as they might not have a the level of supervision I need”: Whenever you are looking to take a new position always ask about the organisations professional support arrangements. It is important to seek clarification as to how a company organises its supervision and such questions will give you an insight into the supervision culture. The RCSLT recommend that NQP’s receive professional supervision from an HCPC-registered SLT who has certified membership of RCSLT in accordance with best practice guidance.
It is fair to say supervision is ‘an essential part of good professional practice’ (CQC) which is why the team at Sarah Buckley Therapies continues to review and invest in high quality supervision for all its team members.
Speech and Language Therapist
‘Information on Supervision’ (2017) RCSLT
‘Supervision: Information for Speech and Language Therapists’ (2017) RCSLT
Supporting information and guidance: Supporting effective clinical supervision (2013) Care Quality Commission