6 Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Supervision

Course excerpt from Clinical Supervision for Healthcare Professionals

Clinical Supervision for Healthcare ProfessionalsSupervision involves observation, evaluation, feedback, facilitation of supervisee self-assessment, and acquisition of knowledge and skills by instruction, modeling, and mutual problem solving. In addition, by building on the recognition of the strengths and talents of the supervisee, supervision encourages self-efficacy. Supervision ensures that clinical consultation is conducted in a competent manner in which ethical standards, legal prescriptions, and professional practices are used to promote and protect the welfare of the client, the profession, and society at large.” What, at first glance, may appear as straightforward training, actually entails many layers of attention and commitment to the craft of supervision.

Supervision is a relationship. Each supervisory relationship is unique in its texture and each supervisee develops at his or her own pace. Layered throughout the duration of the experience is the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee, the clinical work of the supervisee, the material presented by the patients, the teaching of assessment and psychotherapy, the management of administrative duties, and the development of the supervisee as an effective therapist. The environment of practice, the types of patients receiving treatment, the events of the times, the theoretical orientation of the supervisor, and the complex personalities and life experiences of both the supervisor and supervisee weave an intricate fabric from which to learn therapy.

Trainees experience a host of emotions during their supervisory experience. One of the primary and consistent emotions supervisees present with is anxiety. Here are six guidelines to reduce anxiety in supervision:

  1. Negotiate, review, and update a written training contract. Links to sample supervision contracts can be found at the end of the course. Contact your professional association for other supervisory resources. The written training contact provides a structure for the supervision process and is an important first step in the organization of supervision.
  2. Match methods to mental stage of the supervisee. Supervisors develop along with their supervisees by mapping mental stages and providing more in-depth methods as supervision progresses.
  3. Directly address anxiety in the trainee. Call it what it is. Anxiety is always a part of learning to be a therapist and learning to be a supervisee. According to the research, supervisees prefer supervisors to take the lead in identifying and discussing difficult situations.
  4. Develop a collaborative supervisor attitude. Supervision is a team sport; it is a process of mutual involvement where the supervisee does not succeed without the experience of true collaboration.
  5. Create evaluative focus. Ellis and Ladany recommend the scope of competence be in the areas of therapy behavior, skill development, case formulations, and assessment.
  6. Encourage trainee independence. Trainees are in a constant state of “working towards” and, during the course of supervision, the supervisor should see an increase in independent thinking and behavior, matched with symptom improvements in the patients treated. If the supervisor does not observe an increase in independent thinking and behavior on the part of the trainee, steps should be in place to provide clear feedback. The evaluation process may need to be more frequent and more directed to specific behaviors. Remediation, such as required viewing master training tapes of therapy or increase use of role playing in supervision, may be useful to help the trainee observe, practice, and reflect on therapy technique.

Click here to learn more.

Clinical Supervision for Healthcare ProfessionalsClinical Supervision for Healthcare Professionals is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that will outline best practices in psychotherapy supervision and review the structure of the supervisory relationship. Topics presented include developmental models of supervision, goals of the supervisory experience, ethics and risk management in the supervision process, using technology in supervision, and diversity awareness training for the supervisee. The vital and, at times, challenging relationship between supervisor and supervisee will be discussed and compared to the therapy relationship. The important topic of self-care of both the supervisee and the supervisor will be presented. A review of the type and structure of performance evaluations will be included, along with information about successful termination. Although this course is primarily written for psychotherapists, many of the essential facets of supervision apply to other disciplines such as occupational therapy and social work. Use this information to further your own competency as a clinical supervisor. Course #30-92 | 2017 | 48 pages | 20 posttest questions

This online continuing education course is offered by Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.
We are approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within one week of completion).