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  • Amy Smitke

The Role of a Supervisor

When someone takes on a supervisor role, they should look at at that it entails, requires, or what their responsibilities are. Not only in the job description but from a well rounded perspective. In some places or for some people the bare minimum is all they strive for. As a supervisee, don't accept less than you need. You may be an independent, self starter, but supervisors are in their position to lead, helps develop and growth supervisees, and be a support. Now in this post, we are more specifically talking about menta health supervisors and their role in developing mental health providers.


There are many models of supervision that one can take that may better suit them. Supervision however should always be educational/clinical, supportive, and if needed administrative. It should be goal oriented for development and growth, protective of the welfare of the supervisee as well as those they serve, gatekeeping for the profession, and empowering in order to help the supervisee one day perform independently.


I for one, enjoy the Empowerment Model of Supervision. This model encompasses the ROLE of the supervisor to be a teacher, a researcher, a leader, a colleague, and a consultant. I additionally always feel my role as a supervisor includes mentorship, career counseling, advising, evaluation, sounding board, documenter, and empowerer.


As a supervisor we are not here to hurt our supervisees in any way. We are not their therapist, their parent, their friend, or their punisher. We are here to help guide them, and if they get off track help bring them back. As a supervisor I have had many of my supervisees have very poor experiences with previous supervisors for a number of reasons such as they were harsh, they were inflexible, they were directive but not supportive or guiding, they knew it all, they spoke in condescending tones, they were manipulative or were gaslighting in some ways, they encouraged or reinforced toxic boundaries, they didn't have boundaries, they were not up to date on laws, regulations, or ethics, they didn't provide constructive feedback, they didn't stick to their word or follow up on their end, they felt unsafe talking with them about concerns or asking questions, they never submitted their hours to the board and will now not reply to inquiries or refusing to submit them and holding them over their head for a number of reasons, etc. The list can go on. Are you doing any of these as a supervisor, are you aware?


I strive to empower my supervisees to be open, have conversations, explore together so we can learn together and collaborate on their development and growth. As a supervisor we are sending these individuals out into the world to care for others, we are responsible for them, if we do not take the opportunity to guide them otherwise we need to take responsibility for the outcome. We are responsible at the beginning of a supervision relationship to start the conversation of "What are the expectations of supervision, and the responsibilities of each party," and then we have to stick to that. At the end of supervision there should be no uncertainty in what the expectations were are are. Included in this responsibility is ensuring that the supervisee knows the state and professions requirements for supervision, hours, etc.


Taking on supervisee's shouldn't be entered lightly, but entered boldly with compassion, excitement, and knowledge. We need more GREAT supervisors. What are you doing to prepare yourself to help guide the next set of skills professionals info the field?


Until next time...Stay Motivated!





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