I approach couple and family therapy supervision with an integrative model, influenced most strongly by the process-experiential therapy known as Emotionally Focused or Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). I do not restrict myself to supervising therapists who use EFT, however. In the beginning stages of our working relationship, we will clearly discuss your expectations and goals and the compatibility of our philosophical and theoretical orientations. I view supervision as a process for increasing your techniques and skills and for enhancing your flexibility in the “use of self” in therapy with clients.
Supervisor/Supervisee Working Alliance
Developing a respectful, collaborative working alliance is a salient element in my clinical supervision practice. This working alliance becomes a safe place for you to increase empathy with your clients, explore your internal processing in your therapy sessions and to focus on the interaction patterns between you and your clients.
Together we attend to the working alliance at both the supervisor/supervisee interface and the client/therapist interface. Frequently the dynamics between supervisor and supervisee are parallel to those in your relationships with your clients. Detecting these isomorphic dynamics provides a rich context for exploring your internal processing and its impact on the therapeutic system.
Issues of Diversity and Power
Recognizing that power relations are a part of every conversation and that values and world views of clients and therapists that go unexamined are likely to impact on what is happening in the process of therapy, I seek to address these issues with you in a sensitive and open manner.
In clinical supervision, as in therapy, I attend closely to the nonverbal, emotional responses, and check in on an ongoing basis with you for feedback about your experience of the supervision process. I remain open to multiple perspectives and to learning from your expertise.
A highly respectful way of dealing with issues of power and diversity is to work with the system of universal emotional experience. A dialectical constructivist view of emotion as a complex system integrating mind, body and culture is beginning to permeate many vastly different models of therapy, write Greenberg and Johnson (1998), the co-creators of Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples. If you are interested in emotion as a dynamic feeling-meaning process with the capacity to reach beyond content and context into universal experience, I can offer you this perspective in supervision.
My goal in couple and family therapy supervision is to engage in a relationship that supports you in developing your personal approach to therapy and in exploring your internal and interpersonal responses to the client system. I want to create a secure, empowering atmosphere that brings forth and affirms your therapeutic wisdom. I will be transparent and congruent so as to model for you an effective use of self as a resource in the therapeutic working alliance.
In couple and family therapy supervision and consultation, I seek above all else to “be with you” in the most effective way so as to enhance your quality of presence and therapeutic effectiveness with your clients and to consolidate your confidence and sense of meaning in your clinical work.
(from Philosophy of Supervision paper I wrote for the AAMFT course, Fundamentals of Couple and Family Therapy Supervision, 2003. For a copy of the complete paper with references, click here.)