Report On Supervision Workshop

“Play in the Sandpit”

By Margaret Watchorn (Convenor)

This was the engaging invitation from Robin and Peter during the course in Supervision they gave recently in Dublin, and which is based on their well-known text: “Supervision in the Helping Professions”. (Hawkins and Shohet, OUP).

Out of many interesting concepts and ideas, the one that intrigued me most was that the client is continuously offering unconscious supervision to the therapist, and that by listening for this material, the worker can avail of the wisdom of the client’s unconscious in the work. Another “gem” is the notion that the therapist’s own “stuff” offers “hooks” for the client to connect to uncon­sciously. Indeed, perhaps this may be necessary if the transference is to develop and a therapeutic relationship with effective “working-through” is to begin?

Peter and Robin showed the value of play, imagination and fantasy during the workshop and also in the work of the supervisor, rather than the “Court­room and Judge” approach to evaluation and scrutiny that some practitioners bring to it.

They have very differing personalities and styles. The way they interacted as foil, contrast or complement to each other, showing genuineness, respect, honesty and immediacy, was a model of co-presenting and co-working. A sense of wholeness and reality came from this and enabled the participants to fully engage in the sessions and the practice opportunities of the workshop. This was vital, given that few of them knew much about the principles and practice of the other disciplines represented by those present. Workers from various back­grounds of child-care-, social work, addiction counselling, psychotherapy, marriage counselling, group counselling and rehabilitation workers were able to work together in triads of observer-supervisor-helper, in the different modes of the approach.

The Hawkins and Shohet model of supervision has 6 modes or foci and is based on the double matrix of the Helping relationship and the Supervisory relationship. These modes are:

The Content.
Interventions and Strategics.
The Helping Relationship.
The Therapist’s Counter-transference.
Parallels and Mirrorings in the Supervision
The Supervisor’s Counter-transference.

Note from the Convenor:

I believe some 35-40 people in Ireland have now done this course with Robin and Peter, either in Ireland or in Britain. I know there is considerable interest in their pioneering work on Supervision. It is hoped to offer the course again in late 1993. They also have an advanced course that includes actual work supervision and the use of video. This is restricted to those who have completed the general, introductory course and who are willing to bring recorded material.

I would be very happy to hear from anyone interested in either of these courses. I can be contacted at 01 2888162