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Diversity in Clinical Supervision and Practice

The Role of Supervision in Fostering Diversity

As a psychotherapist, you strive to meet the client’s need to be understood, help them resolve their issues, foster meaningful life changes, and start the healing process. Psychotherapy and counselling provide a safe place to address challenges, work out solutions, and restore wellbeing. 

With this in mind, counselling can be highly beneficial for all parties involved. However, therapy does come with its challenges, especially when a therapist and a client come from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Diversity involves a range of differences among people, from our age, social status, and national origin to the ethical and religious believes we hold or our gender identity. 

Our background is an inseparable part of our identity, determining our belief systems, values, and relationship with others. 

Such differences can create a more vibrant atmosphere in psychotherapy, but they can also lead to misunderstandings, a disparity in expectations, cultural conflicts and related challenges. 

Clinical supervision can contribute to an increased understanding of the importance of diversity in supervisees and clinical practice, helping potential bridge gaps.

How Can Clinical Supervision Promote Diversity in Supervisees and Clinical Practice?

Clinical supervision aims to ensure the best possible care for the client by developing the supervisee’s skills and competencies.

Clients in psychotherapy and counselling bring a variety of diversity factors into therapy. So, like any other person, a client in your counselling practise may differ in the language they speak, sexual orientation, values they hold, physical attributes, political attitudes, and so on. 

With this in mind, multicultural competency has become an essential component in a supervisee’s training and development. 

Clinical supervision provides much more than teaching you how to be a counsellor. Clinical supervision that emphasizes the importance of diversity can encourage you to embrace diversity by helping you:

  • obtain culturally specific knowledge about different groups
  • enhance your multicultural awareness and sensitivity to diversity
  • learn how to work with culturally diverse individuals
  • improve own cultural self-awareness 

Also, diversity-centred clinical supervision can help you examine your own preconceptions, biases, and prejudices. Furthermore, inclusive clinical supervision can help broaden your horizons and step out of your comfort zone. 

Working with Culturally Diverse Clients

It is a part of human nature to accept information aligned with our belief system more readily. However, if new information is not consistent with the supervisee’s personal beliefs and values, this may affect their ability to provide quality care to their clients.

Clinical supervision can help increase your professional effectiveness by encouraging you to revise your knowledge, reflectively examine your misconceptions, and, if necessary, deconstruct and adjust your prior beliefs and conceptions. 

Your supervisor will encourage you to continuously upgrade your knowledge, skills, and self-awareness in providing services in a multicultural environment. In addition, they will help you explore assumptions and beliefs impacting your work and encourage you to examine how your belief system may influence your counselling practice. 

Dealing with Own Diversity: How Can Clinical Supervision Help?

Culturally diverse supervisees may experience difficulties in their practice due to their client’s biases and prejudices. 

Namely, it is not unusual for psychotherapists who belong to minority groups to experience clients’ unfavourable attitudes and mistreatment due to stigma, bigotry, and microaggressions. For some clients, seeing a culturally diverse counsellor may be intimidating. Consciously or unconsciously, a client’s perception of you as a therapist may be influenced by biases and stereotypes. 

Therefore, for many culturally diverse therapists, stigma inside and outside their professional settings requires an abandonment of their beliefs, values, and heritage. As a result, a supervisee may become hyperconscious of their appearance, language, or emotional expression.

For some supervisees, confronting the client’s misconceptions and prejudices can be challenging, so they choose not to address them.

You may avoid addressing your client’s unfavourable attitudes because you worry about being perceived negatively or fear how this will impact the therapeutic relationship. Nevertheless, the diversity issues in the counselling process can cause mental health concerns, affect your effectiveness, and diminish professional satisfaction. 

Clinical supervision can help the supervisee address their isolation, anxiety, grief, anger, and frustration.

Summary

The therapy is most effective when a client finds a therapist who fits. It is equally significant for a supervisee to work with a supervisor who understands biases, empathizes with their fears, and provides support. Clinical supervision allows you to establish support networks you can turn to when providing service within diversity. A positive, trustworthy relationship with your supervisor can help you set boundaries within the clinical setting and address issues in everyday practice.

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