Several years ago, I was managing a large team of caseworkers, all with different qualifications, including social work, psychology, social science and education. When I started working with this team, I asked for feedback on what would make their jobs a little less stressful. One thing they all said? Supervision.
Between myself and the team leaders, we provided supervision on a monthly basis, with extra supervision when needed. There was also group supervision for the caseworkers without management involved. But it was internal supervision, provided by someone who worked for the same agency.
After a while, people started coming to me asking for external supervision. They stated that whilst their group supervision was helpful, they didn’t feel that they could really open up about everything that was affecting them in the work place.
At the time, trying to manage a very tight budget, I told my team that we just couldn’t afford it. Reflecting back on this, I realise that I was wrong and that I should have found a way to make this work.
Because external supervision is so important for giving people in front line positions a safe space to fully de-brief about what is going on for them in the work place, as well as having time to talk about how their personal lives may be being impacted by the work that they do.
You might have a wonderful supervisor at work, who is able to fully support you in every way. You might then feel you don’t need to see an external supervisor, and it’s great if you have that set up at work. But many don’t. Many experience real difficulty in being able to debrief with their manager or team leader, feeling that although they may be able to talk about caseloads and strategies in supervision, they may not be able to talk about the personal impact that working in human services may have. They may not feel comfortable talking about having cried in the car after trying to help a child at risk or a family in need or a person experiencing homelessness. Or feeling distressed when going through their own personal matters and still having to turn up at work and spend the day helping others. Or maybe they just really don’t like their boss or their colleague but can’t talk about this to someone in their own team.
An external supervisor may seem like an added expense when there are already plenty of things to pay for, but good supervision is an investment in yourself, your professional development and your career. Often workplaces will pay for, or at least subsidise external supervision and it is worth asking about this. There are lots of options for accessing supervision outside of your work place, including group supervision which can work out to be a lower cost that individual supervision.
I was lucky that I worked with a great team back then, and that my own internal supervisor was someone I liked and trusted, but if I had to do it over again, I would absolutely have said yes to external supervision for my team, and for myself.
If you’re wondering what will best suit you, let’s have a 20 minute discovery call to discuss your options. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time