Why professional supervision is a must have


Social worker, teacher and the founder of Tweens2teen

For school chaplains and youth workers, professional supervision helps you stay on top of the thoughts and feelings of your job. It’s an insurance policy against burnout.

You know that moment when you get home from a holiday and face the task of unpacking your suitcase?

Professional supervision is exactly like that. Most people who do professional supervision meet with someone once a month, or once a school term.

It’s a formal process of unpacking that work suitcase.

“What we do not understand in our selves, we do not understand in the other person.”


What is professional supervision?

When you unpack the holiday suitcase, you need to sort out your clean clothes from the dirty. There’s the toiletries and other things to put away. You also need to find somewhere to show off those souvenirs. Somewhere that will remind you that of what a wonderful holiday it was.

Professional supervision is the unpacking of your mind. It’s a formal process. You might reflect on what you did in a particular scenario and how that links to theory and best practice.

It might involve trying to unjumble your schedule and build in some more life balance. Professional supervision is about reflecting on your feelings or thoughts in a particular situation.  And how these might have influenced your behaviours or actions.

The benefit of doing it on your own is that the supervisors attention will be just on you. In a group, people share that attention across three to five workers.

The benefit of group supervision is that you not only learn from your mentor, but you learn from others. You’ll get to reflect on your own practice, as well as delve into the thinking, feelings and behaviour of others.

Why is it important?

Most work with people relies on theories of human character and development. These theories help us understand why people behave the way they do and how change occurs.

Having regular supervision links what you do in practice to the theory and knowledge you learned in class. Professional supervision also helps link what’s working or not working to new knowledge.

Look for a professional supervisor who’s more experienced and qualified than you.

If you have a Certificate or Diploma level qualification, look for someone who has a Bachelor. It might be in social work, psychology or counselling. If you have a Bachelor, look for someone who has some postgraduate studies or a Masters.

If you’re still not convinced, then check out my article on the 25 reasons why school chaplains should be getting supervision.

Where can I find a professional supervisor?

Most employers where supervision is mandatory, will keep a list of people they recommend. You can also find the right person by looking for a counsellor through a professional body. Other options are to talk to your line manager or your doctor for some suggestions.

It’s important that you find someone you feel you can be open with. Supervision can feel like turning yourself inside out, with all that talk about feelings, thoughts and actions. So having someone who affirms you while helping to improve your practice is valuable.

While counsellors provide supervision,  supervision shouldn’t be a counselling session.

It’s about your approach to practicing youth work. Each session should explore the strategy and theory you use through a structured process. Don’t settle for counselling if you’re wanting great supervision!

I have an article on choosing a professional supervisor with some handy tips for when you’re on the hunt. It has a free printout checklist at the bottom if you want to skip to the chase.

And if you’re interested, I offer professional supervision too; either face-to-face, over the phone or via Skype. Read more about my professional supervision service or use the form below to find out more.

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