Well, the clue is in the name – super vision, although this already implies a power difference, with the supervisor having ‘super powers’. Another way of thinking about this is that reflective conversations, co–vision supervision and meta-level thinking are required to get to grips with the multiple contexts and complexities of life and the work.
Why Systemic Supervision?
Systemic means working to bring out, share and respect the often interconnecting views and stories of everyone involved while integrating a way forward. (Child, 2010)
Supervision is a reflective space to think about clinical work and the process of supervision. It engages thinking and curiosity about different contexts and theories, ideas, and models of work, including the theory of learning. The therapist is not an outside observer, but a person with a range of similarities and difference to the people they work with.
The use of the social graces is a useful tool in thinking about the self of the therapist, the families we work with and what we prioritise and pay attention to. Developed by Roper Hall and Burnham, the social GGRRAAACCEEESSS mnemonic is a practical application to therapy training and supervision and the development of systemic theory.
The mnemonic stands for Gender, Geography, Race, Religion, Age, Ability, Appearance, Class, Culture, Ethnicity, Education, Employment, Sexuality, Sexual Orientation and Spirituality.
Each named difference can be part of constructing social realities. Paying attention to our own use of the above when thinking about ourselves and our clients (and more importantly our blindness to some of them) is a useful tool in thinking about the multiple levels of contexts in which we all live. To begin to understand and connect with each other and our clients, we need to think about difference, acknowledge it and use curiosity to open conversations and enjoy its richness.
As a systemic therapist and supervisor, I am interested in broadening the ‘told’ stories and exploring and bringing forth the untold narratives. Generating thinking and formulating questions in supervision that open new narratives in therapy is part of useful supervision. It also embeds the multiple context levels into practice and keeps them there.
As a therapist, part of our registration requirement is to have regular clinical supervision, which is invaluable to help think about the work and what we bring to the families we work with.
Supervision is a skill that requires training and registration. A systemic model can be with groups, trainees or individuals, and can be a one-off consultation or training session, or a regular meeting.