I am always amazed when I hear of hypnotherapists who are not in supervision. I am much less amazed when I then hear (usually not too long afterwards) that they have stopped practising.
Let’s set this in context. Nearly all caring professions, nursing, medicine, teaching, to name but three, encourage or even expect practitioners to have regular supervision. And not just when they are new, or if they have a difficult caseload, but always. It is part of the professional deal and recognised as an important part of stopping stress and burnout and providing a safe environment where professionals can hone and improve the service they offer to clients, students or patients.
Why should we be different? I don’t think we should be. In fact I think we need supervision even more because so many of us work alone. I practise what I am preaching and would like to describe how my supervision works. I hope this will help any of you out there who are not in supervision to see that it is not a process of checking up on you, or constraining your creativity. It is the opposite really, a time when you can really fly with new ideas and learn about different ways of doing things.
So what do I do? I have a weekly session with my two colleagues via Skype: the only way to do it as we are in Scotland, Sheffield and Tunbridge Wells. We were all trained in solution-focused supervision so we are interested in outcomes, better outcomes, new outcomes, outcomes that surprise and delight us. We start the session by focussing on an issue one of us wishes to bring to supervision. Then we start by asking what would have to happen in the session to make it worthwhile. This naturally helps the person bringing the issue to focus on success – what would they need to do to get to where they would like to be. This method works brilliantly with client issues.
So, you can say, here’s the problem, how would things look if it were solved, what steps are needed to get there? What obstacles might stop that, what do I need to achieve that – do I have the resources, can I get them, who can help? Very quickly the problem becomes both soluble and wide-ranging. Nine times out of ten you are not just helping your client you are helping yourself. You are helping yourself be a better therapist and a more fulfilled and happy person.
And we are always growing. At the end of each session we will ask what could we have done to have made the supervision session better. We reflect on our individual practice – what patterns are emerging? What development needs do we have and how can we fulfil them? We are all therapists with years of experience; we have seen thousands of clients. Yet we still do this, every week, week in, week out. Why? Because it makes us more fulfilled, happier and more confident therapists.
If you have never had this sort of supervision you will be amazed at what a change in your mindset it will make. A bad day, that difficult client becomes an opportunity. I often find myself, if I have a challenge with a client, thinking ‘that’s interesting, I can’t wait to tell Kim and Melanie about this.’ And success with a client is no longer private, you can shout about it with your supervisor. Supervision is a chance to celebrate. So get yourself a good supervisor and start celebrating.
Ann Jaloba is co-founder of SupervisionPlus (www.supervisionplus.org) and co-editor of The Hypnotherapy Handbook. She also edits The Hypnotherapy Journal and wrote FirstDays: how to build a therapy business and stay sane to help therapists through their first year in practice. Recently named one the UK’s top 10 therapists on the Huffington Post she practises in Sheffield, specialising in stress and anxiety reduction and weight-management and confidence.