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The Vital Role of Consultation in Supervision: Broadening Perspectives and Enhancing Practice

As many of us know, supervision is a key foundational component to both personally and professionally growing in the field. Unfortunately, once many of us become independently or clinically licensed we stop seeking supervision or better yet consultation. There may be many reasons why we do so but if we reflect and look inward we all know that importance of continued consultation. Simply because we have been in the field a few years and earned the next level of licensure or have been in the field 20 years does not mean we are unbiased, impartial, or know everything. There are many benefits and important reasons why continued consultation should be a part of our monthly or at least regular professional development. I found it interesting recently in a live I did with Tamara Howell, who is licensed in Europe that consultation is required for the field, forever! You heard that right, the have so many monthly hours of consultation they have to do for as long as they are licensed. I ask you to reflect, how often are you seeking some sort of consultation by anyone, especially someone outside of your organization?

I want to talk about the many reasons that continued consultation SHOULD be something you are continuously doing.

It helps to broaden your perspective. Consultation allows us as supervisors to gain fresh insights and different perspectives on complex cases, or even think outside the box on cases that are frustrating or seem simple. I often have clinicians come to supervision where they have been working with a client and are finding themselves stuck or stumped with if they are missing something, or a bad counselor because they feel they are no longer able to help the client. Although, if a client is out of their scope a referral would be appropriate, generally this is not the case. Imposter syndrome can be difficult to manage, especially with newer clinicians, and having the opportunity for them to discuss it and have others ask questions and see the case from a fresh set of eyes and from different experiences, expertise, and perspectives we can often find something that maybe was overlooked that may seem simple but can happen, even to those who have been in a the field for many years. Those of us as supervisors we can find the same challenges or maybe we feel that our clients are doing okay and having the opportunity to discuss them we may find we need to make changes to help clients make more progress. That opportunity may never have been there if we were not engaged ourselves in consultation.

It encourages our own professional development. Regular consultation fosters continuous learning and development for both supervisors and supervisees. Working with supervisees does encourage me to continue to find my own ways I can grow and develop but working with others supervisors also challenges and encourages me for my own development. How can I help supervisees to grow and develop if I have stopped doing so or minimally done so. I regularly ask my supervisees about their trainings or what they have learned recently and how they are applying it within their practice and share how I have done so as well. I learn from them and they learn from me. However, it is not their place to challenge me but a peer in a consultation would be a place to be challenged.

It helps us to enhance our decision-making. Consultation provides a platform for supervisors to validate their decisions and ensure they align with best practices. We can so easily become our own echo chambers, leading to poor decision-making that no only impacts us but our supervisees and the clients they are working with or our own clients. We need to talk situations through with others to ensure we are not missing a key piece of information or perspective that may have a significant impact on the outcome or way of which we treat clients. It's also important when thinking of consultation that we include your local board. I personally find at least once a month on average a question or situation that comes up in supervision that either stumps me or I cannot with 100% confidence give direction or an answer to. So what do I do, I reach out and ask the board for direction and consultation. This helps me improve my understanding of situations, best practices, and helps my supervisees understand it's okay to use the board as a positive resource.

It helps us stay present and aware of ethical considerations. Consultation aids in navigating complex ethical dilemmas and ensures compliance with professional standards. We too are human and can allow our own beliefs and perspectives to cloud our judgement at times or overlook ethical issues in a situation. Having consultation with a mix of peers with varying perspectives, experiences, specialties, etc., can aid in helping us uphold the integrity of our practice and the field. Again, checking with the board not only as a consultation option but also to ensure strong upheld ethics are maintained is integral for the field.

It can assist in strengthening the your supervisory relationship with your supervisees. Engaging in consultation demonstrates humility and a commitment to growth, which can enhance trust between supervisors and supervisees. I have always with clients taken the perspective that I wouldn't ask them to do something I am unwilling to do myself. I used to run groups engaging in equine therapy and adventure therapy and I also participated at some point with a new task so that they knew and felt more confidence and comfortable knowing that I can put myself in vulnerable and difficult situations. It builds trust and rapport and although there will also ways be a power differential it makes me more human or more relatable which allows for strong rapport. This is as important with supervisees as it is with clients. I know my supervisees feel more comfortable when I share that I have reached out to the board or that I have spoken with someone through consultation and can say "I don't know the answer, but let me ask and find out."

It aids in preventing burnout, in both yourself as a supervisor and your supervisees. Regular consultation acts as a buffer against burnout by providing a space for supervisors to process challenges and seek support. We are not invulnerable, we too are at risk for vicarious trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue, etc., as much as our supervisees. WE are the frontline for preventing burnout in our supervisees, we cannot do that if we do not first take care of ourselves. I know that we often carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and take the brunt of situations, work, and hardships for our supervisees. And because we do that, we need to take advantage of consultations to help us process and work through cases and take burden off ourselves.

Although consultation is important there can be challenges in seeking consultation. One of the first barriers is believing you need consultation. Hopefully, this blog has helped you begin to realize the important of engaging in regular consultation and its positive impact on yourself both personally and professionally. The next one is has multiple components to it, access. Access during work hours, access on a regular basis, and access financially. There can be many barriers to use finding the consultation that we need, sometimes we have to advocate for ourselves and what we need to do our jobs. How can you find a way to find the access you need to regular consultation?

Access is a reason I created my membership. With regular consultations available monthly, among other supports, resources, and tools for one low monthly cost. Join the Supervision Success Alliance Membership to engage in regular consultation with other supervisors and have access to much more.

I want to wrap up stating that us as supervisors seeking consultation is not a sign of weakness but an integral part of supervisory practice and a powerful tool for personal and professional growth.

Until Next Time... Stay Motivated!

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