The Supervision Quarterly

Spring 2015
Welcome to the Spring Edition of The Supervision Quarterly ..........
In this edition:

Upcoming workshops

Just a quick update – we have had a very busy few months running workshops both locally in Sydney and further afield in Canberra, Hobart, Lismore, Wagga Wagga and Newcastle.

We have three Master classes and one Full Training workshop scheduled for the remainder of the year and there are still a few places left for each workshop but they are filling fast. If you have any questions about any of the workshops please do not hesitate to contact the staff at CSS on

Clinical Supervision for School Counsellors 

Thursday 29 October, Mary MacKillop Centre, 80 William Street,
North Sydney, 9.00am-4.30pm
(8 CPD points)
Download flyer

Applying Systemic Practice in Supervision Wednesday

Wednesday 18 November, Wesley Lodge, 175 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, 9.00am-4.30pm (8 CPD points)
Download flyer

Neuropsychology Supervision for Clinical Neuropsychologists
& Clinical/Psychologists providing neuropsych services

Friday 30 October, Mary MacKillop Centre, North Sydney, 9.00am-4.30pm (8 CPD points) 
Download flyer

Full Training to become a Board Approved Supervisor

Friday 6 November - Saturday 7 November, Mary MacKillop Centre North Sydney, 9.00am-4.30pm
(14 CPD points for 2 day workshop) 
Register online

New for 2016

We are currently developing some new projects at CSS and shortly we will be publishing our 2016 training calendar and adding some exciting new workshops in clinical supervision and family therapy:
  1. Bi-Monthly ‘Supervision-of-Supervision’ small group supervision  (for supervisors wanting to discuss and reflect on the supervision they provide)
  2. Family therapy 2 day workshops AND short courses
  3. Monthly closed group supervision (groups of 4-5 participants)

If you are interested in any of these new groups or training please email to register your interest 

Systemic Supervision

Applying Systems Thinking in Supervision
I’ve been thinking a lot about systems lately and how as supervisors we need to work with different organisational systems. This is often the case when supervising as an ‘external supervisor’ to an organisation or needing to consider external factors, such as University requirements when students are on placement.  I find as a supervisor I have to be mindful and respectful of organisational factors which often influence and at times can limit the work of the clinician AND in turn, the supervisor.   
This edition will look at how to creatively apply systems thinking in supervision: to hold in your awareness organisational factors and work collaboratively with the supervisee within their organisational context to create a space for reflection on emotions and relational factors in supervision.   It will draw on ideas from the family therapy literature and examine the importance of creating and observing feedback processes in clinical work and what is brought to the supervision room. 
Supervision should offer a relationship which both stimulates and develops the supervisee’s personal and professional self.  It should help the supervisee develop knowledge and skills and facilitate attentiveness to their work with client/s.
It needs to create a balance between mentoring and monitoring and be ever mindful of how feedback is given considering the normative (quality control), restorative (emotional content of supervision) and formative (ensuring supervisee competence) functions of supervision.  
Using a systemic lens provides a structure to review relationships and the covert influences of supervisor, supervisee, client and other relevant stakeholders.  Within a systemic framework of supervision there is an emphasis on strengths and the development of ‘personnel competence’ (Betrando & Gilli, 2010) so it imperative the supervisor work with the supervisee to help explore and understand relational factors and ways to promote competence in clinical practice.

So what are the core principles of systemic supervision?

Systemic supervision is contextually based and looks at patterns in relationships and the influences on behaviour and beliefs.  It is reflexive and based on examining one’s own relationships.  Systemic supervision focuses on inner and outer conversations and the emphasis placed on these by the supervisee, and how s/he then uses this information in working clinically. Some core principles underpinning systemic supervision include:
1.  Contextualization and the multiple views of the supervision process
It is fundamentally important to always take into consideration and reflect on the unique and specific contexts in which supervision occurs – including the perspective of stakeholders.  A question to ask might be ‘Have we considered all the relevant perspectives?  How does context matter where the supervisee works (community, hospital, NGO and so on)? Remember, systemic supervision asks questions about relationships so perspectives you should consider in the supervision discussion include:
  • Family of origin
  • Intergenerational transmission of problems/illness AND strengths
  • Other meaningful relationship dynamics (outside the family of origin – school, church, community)
  • Emotional reactions: motives, values, beliefs and attitudes
  • How the story is told and interpreted by significant others
  • How perspectives change over time and what influences the evolving viewpoints.
2. Awareness of intersecting therapeutic, professional and personal relationships
Supervisors must be alert to how the different relationships impact on the PROCESS and OUTCOME of supervision.  The supervisor must look beyond case management and therapy and help the supervisee reflect on the client-therapist and supervisee-supervisor relationships.
Questions to ask include:
  • What are the effects of my actions in the various relationships?
  • What questions might be helpful in supervision that will help the supervisee unpack relational issues?
For the supervisor to be able to question and challenge s/he needs to be aware of how power and diversity impact relational factors. One must first ensure a solid and safe working alliance.  This will allow a transparent discussion about any issues that arise for the supervisee and within the supervisory relationship.  The best supervision occurs when both supervisor and supervisee are honest, can challenge and allow space for reflections on the emotional component of their work.

The supervisor needs to self-reflective about their interactions and their impact on therapeutic, professional and personal relationships. Being aware of the ‘self-of-the supervisor’, the ‘technical and the personal’ (knowledge of therapy, supervision, adult learning and the self-outside of supervision) ensures the supervisor reflects on and integrates in supervision the wider interactional factors.

"Systemic supervisors actively consider themselves in the process and what they bring to the relationship….. Being self-reflexive enables supervisors to have a systemic/relational and synergistic perspective, responding flexibly and responsively to issues and problems in any of the affected relationship and considering all views without privileging a particular one"
(Storm & Todd, 2014 p. 5).
3. A focus on context, relationships, self-reflectivity and interconnection
At the foundation of systemic supervision is the premise systemic concepts need to be central to the process within the supervisory exploration. These include concepts such as context, relationship/interaction, multiple views/lens, co-construction, complexity, self-reflectivity and interconnection. The supervisor must be mindful and make explicit their theoretical biases (e.g. strengths-based, behavioural, family-of-origin) while simultaneously being mindful of the limitations of using only their models as a guide. Systemic supervisors incorporate new ideas, change with new information from the wider context and as such, often develop and are more integrative.
4. Balance between supervisee development, the relationships and accountability
A systemic supervisor is aware of the influencing factors impacting on the supervisory relationship: what methods are used, which relationships to highlight, how to respond to both supervisee and client needs and what to focus on in the session currently and beyond.
A systemic supervisor is able to navigate the supervisory process and make informed choices on what to focus on in the session in helping the supervisee develop, learn and at all times safeguard the client. Collecting ongoing feedback and evaluating supervisee development AND the supervisory process is important in contributing to the building blocks of effective and accountable supervision. 

How to apply Systems Thinking in Supervision

Consider Hawkins and Shohet’s ‘Seven-Eyed model’ which engages a process model and allows for extension to systemic thinking and reflective practice.  This model combines attention to the beliefs, emotions and experience of the supervisee and to the relational interactions in the clinical process and the supervisory relationship. By employing such a model, deeper knowledge is gained allowing for a broad and reflective experience. The seven ‘eyes’ are as follows:
1. The supervisee - supervisor system
The focus is on the situation, the problem the supervisee wants help with, and how issues are presented. What is the immediate agenda that needs to be addressed?
2. The supervisee strategies and interventions
The focus is on what kinds of intervention have been made, the rationale for them, and what else could they have done. This focus may be especially valuable for students consolidating basic skills.
3. The therapy relationship
The focus is on the dynamic between them, or on what is going on at both a conscious and an unconscious level. It offers information that can assist in understanding the deeper underlying processes which affect the outcome of the work. 
By paying attention to this part of the system, the supervisor works with the supervisee to help s/he learn to tune in accurately to the underlying psychological and systemic nature of the work.
4. The supervisee’s own experience and processes
Here there is an opportunity to become more self-aware and to be aware of countertransference or subjective experience.  There is a focus on emotions and space should be created to allow for reflection and discussion on the emotional reaction to the work presented.
5. The Supervisory relationship and Parallel Process
This is a valuable perspective as the relational dynamics are explored.
6. The Supervisor’s own self-reflections
Such reflections give an added dimension to the gathering of data within the supervision meeting, and may open up new avenues of understanding relational factors within the clinical and supervisory contexts.  How do my reactions inform my supervision? 
7. The Wider Context.
The supervision meeting should always hold in the foreground ethical, organisational, contractual, social and cultural aspects of the work. There may be different issues at different stages in the work and the developmental stage of the supervisee. 

Top 10 strategies to add to your supervision toolbox

Want to become a systemically oriented supervisor?......
1. Employ a ‘multi-lens’ approach in supervision by always holding in mind: 
  • The relationship between the client/family and the therapist/supervisee
  • The supervisee’s personal and professional contexts
  • The relationship between the supervisee and the supervisor
  • The supervisor's personal and professional contexts
  • The context in which the supervision takes place.
2. Be self-reflective and reflexive monitoring the emotional and interpersonal processes associated with therapist-client AND supervisor-supervisee interaction
LINK: Follette, 2000
3.  Invite a systemic perspective in all aspects of supervision – this can include the use of genograms in clinical presentations
LINK: DHS Vic: Child and Family Snapshot
4. Work with whole family groups, not just the individual client – expand the ‘lens’ that you view client and therapist interactions.  Employ an intergenerational approach
5. Encourage supervisee self-reflection 

6. Encourage the supervisee to recognise the role of their own family history as a resource and constraint in relation to the clinical work they are undertaking
7. Experiment creatively using a reflecting team intervention both as an intervention in clinical work and as part of the supervisee’s own work 
LINK: Reflecting Teams
8. Apply systemic techniques to constructively challenge supervisee learning (watch recordings of clinical work , use a one-way screen, work jointly, employ ‘internalised other’ interviewing
LINK: Internalised Other Interviewing
9. Awareness that the therapist is part of the system and to see their actions as part of collaborative process of change
10. Ensure that the supervisee attends to the relevance and impact of the broad range of social differences (gender, race, class, culture, spirituality and sexuality) both within the clinical and supervisory context.


Bertrando, J., & Gilli, G. (2010) Theories of change and practice of systemic supervision, in C. Burck & G. SNIEL, (Eds.) Mirrors and Reflections, Processes of systemic supervision, Karnac, London.

Burnham, J. (1993) Systemic supervision: the evolution of reflectivity in the context of the supervisory relationship, Human Services, 349 – 381.

Hawkins, P., Shohet, R. (2012). Supervision in the helping profession,  Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Henderson, P. (2009.)  Supervisor Training Issues and Approaches, Karnac books, London

Karamat, R., & Bachicha, D. ( 2012) Systemic supervision practices compared: A closer look at ‘reflection’ and ‘self’ in Multisystemic Therapy and Family Therapy supervision Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry  192-207

Shaw, E. (2014) Mentoring or Monitoring: Formulation a Balance in systemic supervision, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 296 – 310.

Todd, T., & Storm, C., (2014) The Complete Systemic Supervisor, Context, Philosophy and Pragmatics, (2nd Edition). John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex.
I hope you have found this edition of the Supervision Quarterly interesting and remember if you want to learn more, signup for the Master Class Applying Systemic Practice in Supervision in November.

As always, drop me a line and let me know what you think or ask any question supervision related and I am happy to start a dialogue with you or add a column in the next newsletter.  

Just to let you know the Summer Edition will be on ‘Creative ways to work in Supervision’. Please email me with ideas you want explored or any questions.

Until next time…

Clinical Supervision Services

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