Clinical Supervision at QPASTT
Ros, part of QPASTT’s Professional Supervision Team, shares about her work supporting the clinical practice of our staff.
“In supervision, you apply the principles of a trauma-informed approach – safety, trust, choice, collaboration, respect – to our relationship with the practitioner supervisee. We offer support that sits outside of a line management structure, with agreed boundaries of confidentiality, so a practitioner ideally can bring their whole self to reflect on their work, including talking about things they might be struggling with.
As a supervisor I aim to be reflective, grounded, predictable and consistent, and able to help people to regulate their emotions and experiences – if they need that support to help remain present in their work with clients, families and communities. Once that trusting relationship has been developed, supervision can offer a shared responsibility for client care and ethical decision making, as well as a shared joy for insights and breakthroughs in a person’s professional practice or their client’s healing. I’m privileged to hear the breadth of the work that goes on at QPASTT, which is invigorating.
Practitioners new to the process of supervision might need a bit more support to be able to reflect on their work, while other more experienced practitioners might just need a sounding board; someone to offer different perspectives and ask questions that might challenge them a bit more. There is inevitably a personal element that can emerge in supervision sessions. A practitioner can find their work bringing up personal emotions, and it can feel vulnerable sharing this with a supervisor who is also a colleague. Because internal supervision is so embedded at QPASTT, I feel like staff are used to this and my responsibility as a supervisor is to keep really clear boundaries so that people do feel there is trust, safety, and confidentiality in our relationship and that they can be open about how their work might be affecting them.
Some other organisations do offer in-house practice supervision, but in my experience a supervisor will have a dual role as a team leader or a trainer. That can make boundaries and the limits of confidentiality very unclear and challenging for an open supervisor/practitioner relationship. Many organisations will pay for their practitioners to attend external supervision, but a benefit of QPASTT having it in-house is the supervisors’ extensive understanding of the work of the organisation. Our Professional Supervision Team can see patterns and themes emerging for staff and their work with clients and communities and identify needs for training and professional development or where our organisational practices and policies might need to be changed or strengthened.
QPASTT supervisors aim to be culturally responsive to both the clients and communities we work with and the practitioners we supervise. That requires us to be very mindful of our own cultural frame of reference, the limits of our understanding and knowledge and staying open, curious and being comfortable with not knowing. Our approach to supervision is based on reflective practice which makes room for diversity and difference. A reflective practice approach makes space for people to reflect no matter what their role is, and no matter what theories or modalities are informing their practice. We support staff to utilise and implement evidence and practice-based trauma focused interventions, regardless of whether they are working with individual clients, families, groups or communities.
Our team is important to the culture of QPASTT. Due to the nature of the trauma recovery work, we do, at times the organisation will need to be reactive. Having supervisors around who can respond reflectively to moments of uncertainty and risk helps ensure QPASTT is a very grounded and regulated organisation. It ensures that our clinical care is of the highest quality for our clients, that our staff are well cared for, and that we’re known as a credible, ethical, and accountable.”