The area of supervision has held great value and interest for me from the start of my work as a therapist. For me, supervision is a safe space within which there is learning, skill development, reflection on practice and development of professional identity and new ideas. It also provides a space to discuss failure, seek reassurance and discuss complex ethical dilemmas.
My first job was as a supervisor, having just graduated from a Masters program. And I had a team with 20 years plus experience in working with families. In that context, taking a decentered position was really the only choice since the team had a wealth of knowledge about what worked and did not and how they could support families. I got to learn first-hand how much of a role power plays in the relationship and also got to learn how to negotiate the relationship so that everyone can keep learning, the team can work as a unit, the organization meets its requirements and above all the team is energised in the work. But I also remember the feeling of being by myself in working out how to be, and wishing that there was a space to share my apprehensions and my discoveries too.
Narrative ideas and practices can be a wonderful support in creating this kind of supervision space and Raviraj Shetty and I were keen to explore how we can collaborate with a team of supervisors at Ummeed Child Development Center to co-create a supportive platform for supervisors to develop skills in supervision. The two day meeting was spent exploring what supervision meant to the group, naming and looking closely at the discourses around supervision and their effect on the relationship and experiencing the energy and influence in linking people’s experiences in the work. There were discussions around people’s intentions in their work as supervisors and the values they bring into the relationship as well as the hopes they hold for themselves when they take on this role and responsibility. This will be followed by two further meetings where we will explore practices such as rich story development and the absent but implicit and how they can support supervisors in their hopes and responsibilities in their work as supervisor.
The Article is written by Jehanzeb Baldiwala. She is a therapist, supervisor, trainer and part of the Ummeed management team since 2004. She has aligned herself with narrative ways of working since 2006. Her work at Ummeed includes designing and supervising implementation of mental health training programs; providing therapeutic support to families and children with disabilities as well as training and supervising the mental health team at Ummeed. She was instrumental in developing the Mental Health Training Program and is currently working with her team to develop a training program in narrative ideas and practices for community workers in Hindi. Formerly Director of Family Support and Social Rehabilitation Services at North East Community Center, Philadelphia, USA, she has a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Mumbai and course work at UMass, Boston.