My Competencies as a Supervisor
I am a Psychology Board of Australia Approved Supervisor, and I supervise:
- provisional psychologists
- clinical psychology registrars
- general psychologists
- clinical psychologists
- other mental health professionals
I obtained general registration in 2009, and for the past six years, I have worked primarily with adults who have experienced neglect and/or trauma during childhood. I am comfortable supervising straightforward and complex cases. I work in collaboration with other supervisors when supervisees require specific competencies with couples or children.
The therapies that I use regularly include:
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
- Schema Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Ego State Therapy
- Compassion Focused Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
I have been an accredited EMDR practitioner since 2015, and I am working towards becoming an EMDR consultant.
My Philosophy of Supervision
Supervision is a special and important part of the practice of psychology. Ideally, it ensures that therapists are adhering to the highest ethical standards, using up-to-date, evidence-based treatments, and managing their own wellbeing, which is a key ingredient to a person's ability to help others to heal.
I love supervising for many reasons. I learn a lot from the people I supervise through their challenges, their work contexts and their unique perspectives. Supervising, along with professional development keeps my knowledge of research and therapy current, which helps me to offer better therapies to the people on my own caseload. I enjoy watching therapists develop their skills and self confidence, and seeing people emerge from their training as capable and self-possessed professionals. I can summarise my philosophy of supervision as follows:
Supervision should happen in a supportive environment that feels safe enough for supervisees to be honest about their difficulties. As a supervisor, I aim to establish a comfortable, private space for supervisees to explore struggles openly, knowing that they will be understood and assisted.
Learning takes place when we are challenged, and supervision should provide challenges to supervisees. Through role plays, case discussions, readings and training, supervision should stretch supervisees to master new skills and develop new knowledge and perspectives, and to become reflective about themselves in their psychological practice. When supervising, I try to keep the level of challenge at the right level that will encourage supervisees to grown and thrive.
Finding a Good Fit
Different people need different things at different times. The supervisory relationship is a professional one, but an intimate one at the same time. It is important that the supervisor's knowledge and style are appropriate to the supervisee's current needs, and this should be evaluated regularly. It is usually healthy for supervisees to eventually outgrow their supervisor, and to evolve to seek a new relationship with someone with a different style or skill set.
The Supervisor Training and Approval Program (STAP) Framework
Although supervision is often thought of as a place in which a supervisee consults about difficult cases, supervision is in fact much more than that. According to STAP, there are 7 relevant aspects of the supervisory relationship that operate during each supervision session. I try to address each aspect in most supervision sessions with the people I supervise.
- The Client: what's happening for the client?
- Intervention Strategies: what is happening in the therapy?
- These first two aspects are most commonly addressed during case consultations in most supervision sessions, and it would be unusual to leave them out of a supervision session.
- Relationship 1: how is the therapeutic alliance between the client and the supervisee?
- This aspect of supervision addresses transference: is the client applying expectations or behaviours to the supervisee that are more about the client's past relationships than the current therapeutic relationship? If so, how can this process be changed through the therapy?
- Supervisee Reactions: how is the supervisee responding to the process of doing therapy with this client?
- This aspect of supervision covers countertransference: is the supervisee applying expectations or behaviours to the client from their own past relationships, that may not be about the current therapeutic relationship? How can this be managed to best assist the client and the supervisee?
- Relationship 2: how is the supervisory alliance between the supervisor and the supervisee? Does it need attention?
- Is there a good enough fit between the supervisor and the supervisee? Has the balance between a supportive and a challenging environment been achieved? Does it need adjustment?
- Supervisor Reactions: how is the supervisor responding to the process of supervising the supervisee?
- Self-awareness is a crucial part of the profession of psychology. As a therapist and a supervisor, I need to be checking in with myself to make sure that I am comfortable in my role as a supervisor, and if not, why not? Does the arrangement need adjustment? DoI as a supervisor need some supervision for my supervision?
- Systems Around Supervision: what effect are the context of the clinical work, the context of the supervision, the organisation and the institutions involved having on the client, the supervisee and the supervisor?
- Are there contextual or systemic issues that need to be looked at in order to assist the supervisee?
AHPRA Supervision Framework
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency defines policy about the practice of the profession of psychology in Australia. There are different levels of training that psychologists may complete, with different implications for supervision.
4+2 Pathway: Supervision to become a General Psychologist
People who have completed an approved 4 year tertiary course in psychology may become Registered Psychologists if they undertake 2 years of supervised practice with a board approved supervisor.
5+1 Pathway: Supervision to become a General Psychologist
People who have completed an approved 4 year tertiary course in psychology in the last 10 years may become Registered Psychologists if they undertake an approved graduate diploma in psychology, followed by one year of supervised practice with a board approved supervisor.
Clinical Psychology Registrar Pathway: Supervision to become a Clinical Psychologist
People who have completed an approved 6 year tertiary course in clinical psychology may become Clinical Psychologists if they undertake up to 2 years of supervised practice with a board approved supervisor who has held an Endorsement in Clinical Psychology for 2 years.
AHPRA Core Competencies
AHPRA defines 8 core capabilities that all psychologists must demonstrate. These competencies are what supervisors evaluate as trainee psychologists or registrars progress through their training placements.
- Knowledge of the Discipline; a psychologist must demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based psychological interventions, psychological processes across the lifespan, a broad understanding of psychological theories and psychopathology.
- Psychological Measurement and Assessment; a psychologist must demonstrate competency with mental status examinations, assessments of potential risks of harm to self or others, counselling skills, diagnostic classification systems, psychometric test use, and report writing. A key aspect of this is learning to formulate how predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating and protective factors link to presenting problems and treatment plans.
- Intervention Strategies; a psychologist must be able to use counselling skills and relationship building to develop evidence-based interventions that link diagnosis and psychological formulation to an individually designed treatment plan that is regularly monitored and altered as therapy evolves.
- Communication and Interpersonal Relationships; psychological practice requires highly developed spoken and written communication skills in order to offer treatments to a broad range of clients and liaise with their families, communities and diverse health care professionals.
- Research and Evaluation; offering up to date evidence-based interventions requires that a psychologist capably reviews current literature to determine which interventions enjoy the most robust empirical support. In some cases, where evidence-based practice is not yet available, a psychologist may be required to develop practice-based evidence, evaluating and monitoring adapted or novel interventions to treat specific difficulties.
- Ethical, Legal and Professional Matters; psychologists are in an unusual position with respect to their clients, in which they learn intimate information about a person who may be vulnerable to exploitation for various reasons. In recognition that clients of psychological services may be at risk of exploitation by psychological therapists, strict ethical and professional guidelines govern the practice of psychology. These standards are highly important to the safe practice of psychology, and are the responsibility of all psychologists on behalf of the profession. http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/APS-Code-of-Ethics.pdf
- Working within a Cross Cultural Context; psychologists are required to develop therapeutic relationships and establish empathy with a broad variety of people, and thus must be aware of cultural diversity, and be comfortable working with clients from different cultural, religious, ethnic, gender and sexual milieus to their own.
- Practice Across the Lifespan; psychologists must have experience working with clients of all ages, and be aware of how age and stage of life may influence psychological well-being.