The Spark works extensively with professionals employed in customer facing roles within social care, education, housing, HR, employability and social work. In this blog we take a look at the key role supervision plays in helping both customer facing staff and the customers they serve.

What is supervision?

At first the prospect of ‘supervision’ sounds like something unpleasant. The term is often used with deliberately negative connotations: a badly-behaved child needs constant supervision for example. In the context of individuals working with members of the public or counsellors themselves, supervision is however a very positive and beneficial process.

In its simplest form supervision is where an individual or counsellor uses the services of another expert in their field to review their work with clients, their professional development and often their personal development. Ultimately the objective of supervision here is to enhance existing skills, build new skills and abilities and improve the outcomes for the individual and their customers.

Supervision in action

The following is from a case-study of supervision work undertaken at The Spark. Names and details have been changed to maintain confidentiality:

I was referred to supervision at The Spark by my manager. As an Employability Adviser, I work with a diverse group of vulnerable clients. My clients face significant challenges personally and professionally in seeking and retaining employment. Over a very short period of time, my workload increased significantly – spread across 5 different locations – and several of my clients confided some very personal and troubling issues to me. At that point, I didn’t know what to do with what I had been told by my clients and I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could speak to about it. The pressure of the job was starting to affect me: I was feeling stressed and frustrated at work and felt I was not in the best place or had enough time to provide the best service to my clients.

After discussing my concerns with my manager one of the suggestions she made was attending supervision at The Spark. I knew nothing about supervision that created a bit of apprehension over what to expect and what would be expected of me. I felt very nervous and quite vulnerable about discussing my issues and feelings with someone else. A complete stranger no less. But equally, I knew I was in a situation at work that I did not know how to move forward from and was willing to give it a try. 

I met with Nicola who began the session by explaining the process of supervision, the reason why people attended and what was involved. Very quickly Nicola put me at ease and I felt more comfortable than I had expected.

During the session, we discussed some of the issues shared by clients, how I reacted to these and looked at techniques of dealing with similar issues in the future.   As the sessions progressed we discussed a wide variety of things including the way in which I worked with clients, communication within the workplace, how to work differently to change results, building relationships and earning the right to challenge whilst ensuring clients retained ownership of their issues or barriers. Nicola was very good at explaining the theory behind the way I worked and why this was effective in the workplace. I took a lot of what I did for granted and she explained that not everyone works in the same way I do and that I have a natural way of working with people that encourages them to share their experiences.

The benefits of supervision

I have benefited greatly as a result of attending Supervision and working with Nicola. It has made me aware of my abilities as an adviser and built my confidence in terms of listening to and trusting my instincts. Importantly it gave me a place where I could talk confidentially about the often difficult and troubling issues my clients would tell me. As a result of this, I believe my clients also have more confidence in me. At first, I would be nervous before attending the supervision session itself but as time progressed I found I enjoyed the process of preparing, going over the work I had been doing and sharing my successes with Nicola.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the learning and development gained through supervision, learning skills and techniques that I can use not only at work but also in my personal life. I am much more relaxed and things have progressed positively at work. My manager also commented on the difference in my work performance compared to last year at my performance review.

As someone who is a very private person I did not think I would enjoy supervision but I truly have and I believe this is down to Nicola. She is very skilled and knowledgeable; she made me feel relaxed and comfortable. I really appreciate all the support I received and the team at The Spark are very friendly and approachable and always provided a welcoming environment.

Find out more about supervision

Find out more about professional training and support with The Spark by emailing our Workforce Development Team.

To enquire about supervision services with The Spark please complete our enquiry form.

Counselling Resources, Counsellor, Non-profit, Relationships, Training