As a novice counsellor, supervision became one of the most important parts of my training. I attended my meetings with a notebook full of questions and left each time knowing more about myself, my thought processes, and my therapeutic approach. As my career developed I looked forward to the meetings where I knew I would have the undivided attention of an experienced professional while I worked through my own growing pains as a counsellor.
Years later, I look back at those meeting with fondness. I can even recall specific conversations, affirmations, and challenges which were all spoken with gentleness and always with my best interests in mind. The decision to pursue individual supervision was not my own, it was a requirement by my licensing board. However, the decision to stay with supervision long after the required hours were finished was purely mine. I could tell that while I was in supervision, I was a better counsellor.
In those supervisory sessions I learned what I had not learned in my university classes—how to be a counsellor. In the university classes I learned what I needed to become a counsellor: theories, techniques, mandatory roleplays and videotaped sessions. In supervision I learned how to actually be a counsellor. I grew as I learned to work with countertransference, how to monitor my self-care in a meaningful way, and how to infuse my own creative spirit into my counselling work. Supervision became a bit of a sanctuary for me when I had a hard caseload. I learned how to do difficult work like refer out when it is in the client’s best interest, involve the legal system when necessary and how to prepare for court when called upon. There were fun and enjoyable parts too when we shared a cup of tea or bought tiny baby clothes when I became pregnant. My supervisor became a trusted part of my world and I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned from her wisdom.
By Dana Schaefer