Summer Newsletter 2016: Culturally Competent Supervision
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The Supervision Quarterly

Welcome to the last edition of The Supervision Quarterly for the year!

In this Edition:
It has again been a busy year of training with exciting activities planned for 2017 expanding the practice to include new family therapy training programs (workshops and certificate course) and a Family Therapy 1 day Symposium in May. 

This year as part of the PsyBA series, workshops were conducted in Darwin along with multiple workshops in Sydney and Canberra. Family therapy training was held in Tasmania, Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle and additional supervision workshops were also held including trauma-focused and group supervision workshops.

Some of our workshops for 2017 have been announced with more sessions being planned in the second half of next year. Planning is also underway for a Family Therapy Certificate course to begin around April-May 2017.

Stay tuned:
 Here are the current listings of PsyBA workshops for 2017:
Full Training courses Master Classes
Sydney 2nd – 3rd March 2017
Managing Difficulties and ethical issues
Wagga Wagga 16th March 2017
Adelaide 18th – 19th May 2017
Managing Difficulties and ethical issues
Sydney  6th April 2017
Sydney 10th – 11th August 2017
Applying Systemic Practice
2nd June 2017
  Neuropsychology supervision (Joint event 2017 CCN) 8th November 2017 – Dr Nicola Gates
For all workshop dates and registration visit:
Family Therapy 1 day symposium Friday 12th May 2017

This one day symposium gathers together experts in the field to discuss contemporary themes in family therapy practice. The day also offers a valuable opportunity to develop knowledge and skills for working with families using different models of family therapy practice across the lifespan. 

Speakers include Adjunct Professor Carmel Flaskas, Dr Glenn Larner, Ron Perry, Elisabeth Shaw, Dr Linda MacKay, Lyndal Power, Professor Niels Buus and Dr Kristof Mikes-Liu

Flyer and abstracts
Online registration

Culturally Competent Supervision

It  is important to consider cultural perspectives in all aspect of counselling, education and supervision.

In the 1990s Bernard and Goodyear advocated that a cultural perspective become an essential component of all supervision. 
This is even more the case as more clients from diverse backgrounds present for therapy with complex presentations, and often needing a trauma focused approach. The supervision triad of client-counsellor-supervisor will most likely connect persons of differing racial-ethnic backgrounds and of differing social-political backgrounds. These factors need to be considered in both developing the supervisory relationship and in the feedback provided in supervision.

As early as 1994 Fong stated ‘ All counselling and supervision have cultural, racial-ethnic aspects which shape core assumptions, attitudes and values of the persons involved and which may enhance or impede counsellor effectiveness’.

What is cultural competence?

Tsui et al, (2014) note the following five perspectives influence the practice of clinical supervision:
Political context This includes structural differentiation, class difference, political ideologies of both the supervisor and supervisee
Cultural context This  relates to values, norms, rituals and customs of the social environment
Organisational context This refers to the occupational hierarchy, use of supervisory authority and decision making in the process of clinical supervision
Professional practices This involves the clinical expertise, professional roles, staff participation, learning process and supervisory interaction
Personal characteristic This includes the personal background and uniqueness of individual supervisees and supervisors (age, gender, race, religion, and physical characteristics)
As supervision is critical for ensuring service standards and qualities are met it is important that supervision include at the core of practice both cultural awareness and appropriate skills to address the needs and problems of clients.  This means that the supervisor and supervisee must be attuned to the patterns of values, beliefs, languages, rituals, customs, behaviours, interaction and cognitive and affective constructs that impact on supervisor-supervisee – client interactions. 

Fundamentally cultural competence refers to the ‘ability of supervisees and supervisors to relate to each other in order to achieve the objectives of clinical supervision, regardless of any diversity issues or contextual difference’ (Tsui et al, 2014, p. 240).

This includes:

1. Awareness of one’s own cultural background
2. Attitude towards differences
3. Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and
4. Skills in interacting with peoples form different cultures

To be culturally sensitive and culturally competent in practice, supervisors and supervisees need to work with openness and respect and a willingness to learn.  The supervisor needs to be critically conscious of their cultural and ethnic positioning in relation to the supervisee and the material the supervisee brings to supervision, and the wider discourses on them both. 

Steps to developing a culturally sensitive supervisory alliance

The following are some guidelines to help you develop a culturally sensitive practice:
  1. When supervising trainees from culturally diverse backgrounds other than your own , be aware and make explicit biases and engage in an open discussion about these factors and how they might impact on your work together
  2. Understand the supervisee’s perspective
  3. Explore culturally diverse dynamics – ask about the supervisees cultural identity and how this might impact their practice (e.g. gender, sexual orientation, spirituality) – an open discussion is necessary to establish common understanding (e.g. direct discussion about racism, privilege, disability, cultural mistrust)
  4. Be open to differences in ideas, values etc., and ensure that you do not respond defensively
  5. Be aware that your worldview (supervisor) is likely to influence therapeutic orientation and choice of intervention.

Some guiding questions to review the supervisor-supervisee cultural lens

It is recommended that these questions be incorporated in the early stages of establishing the supervisor-supervisee working alliance:
  1. How do you describe your ethnic identify?
  2. What are the cultural groups to which you belong?
  3. How do you think culture affects the way you work therapeutically?
  4. How would you rate your knowledge and comfort in working with diverse cultural issues?
  5. How does your workplace influence your work as a culturally sensitive practitioner?
  6. What is your definition of culture? Do we fit together in our worldviews?
  7. How and where did I learn my cultural values?
  8. What other information do we need to discuss in order to make explicit our positions to work form a culturally sensitive stance?
  9. Are there restraints/deficits to knowledge, skills and confidence in working from a culturally sensitive position?  How might you work to improve these?
  10. Exploration of assumptions and understanding of mental health considering a cultural formulation
Hernandez (2008) state the following competences are necessary for effective cultural clinical practice and supervision:-

Share your philosophy of supervision with trainees/supervisees (work on the self of the therapist and the explicit and implicit factors influencing practice)

Develop critical consciousness – what is the larger picture as compared to the intrapsychic dynamics

Provide coaching in their development of their cultural genograms in supervision (e.g. migration, loss, privilege, oppression)

Be aware of and discus parallel processes between them, their clients, supervisor/s, organisation and social context

Encourage ongoing learning in the field and provide resources on cultural competence
Hernandez, P. (2008). The Cultural Context Model in Clinical supervision, Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 2, 1, 10 - 17

Some additional resources to enhance cultural competency

Cross cultural family interview template

Services for transcultural mental health

Standards for cultural competence

Hope you enjoy this holiday period.

-- Christine


Christiansen, A. T., Thomas, V., Kafescioglu, N., Karakurt, G., Lowe, W., Smith, W., & Wittenborn, A. (2009). Multicultural supervision: lessons learned about an ongoing struggle. Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy, 37(1), 109–119.

Constantine, M. G. (2001). Multicultural training, theoretical orientation, empathy and multicultural case conceptualization ability in counselors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 23, 357–372.

Fong, M. L. (1994). Multicultural issues in supervision. ERIC Digest.
Inman, A. G. (2006). Supervisor multicultural competence and its relation to supervisory process and outcome. Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy, 32(1), 73–85.

Killian, K. D. (2001). Differences making a difference: Cross-cultural interactions in supervisory relationships. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 12, 61–103

Ladany, N., Friedlander, M. L., & Nelson, M. L. (2005). Critical events in psychotherapy supervision: An interpersonal approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
Copyright © 2016 Clinical Supervision Services, All rights reserved.

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