It goes without saying, yet is worth saying, that in counselling and psychotherapy we hold a lot of responsibility and emotional processes. Often, we do this in isolation as we may be the only therapist working in a school or organisation or on our own in private practice. Supervision courses for counsellors have an important role to play here.
Supervisors also tend to work independently. I think we, therefore, need supervision that helps us to feel met, to stay open and creative, to learn and to be a person that children and young people like being with and feel safe with. We learn lots of the frameworks and skills to do the latter. Yet in our professionalism, it is easy to get pulled away into adult-centric ways of being and forget the healing potential for ourselves and for our clients, of play and creativity.
Play and creativity are not tools to use but a way of being that enables healing and growth.
It’s relational. It means we connect playfully, release potentials and come to terms with difficult things. In other words, it puts us back in touch with our actualising tendency, to use a professional counselling phrase. I had a great compliment from a client the other day who on leaving the session said; “great playing by the way”. I think he felt met and understood and had fun. We can sometimes forget the power of fun in the healing process. Being playful and creative enables the whole child or young person to heal from trauma. People consist of mind and body. People need experiences that use all processes, from cognitive behavioural to creative. Supervision courses for counsellors need to encourage therapists and clients to play literally and metaphorically with ideas.
Over the last 17 years of post qualifying experience, I have valued supervision that has given me space to be, a relationship where I can be honest. I want to have opportunities to be playful and creative. Being in a safe, honest relationship has kept me hopeful with children and young people recovering from trauma. A good clinical supervision session means I haven’t felt alone with the client’s trauma and healing processes. I can be understood, encouraged and supported to learn. In addition, I am reminded that there are steps towards healing when I’m stuck and can’t see them. I can then be present with my clients.
Such supportive supervision has helped me to think outside the box to develop a practice for individual children.
Good supervision means that I can take some risks. Not in the sense of unsafe or unethical practice, but in the sense of being able to adapt, develop and integrate the practice. I can become someone who can think about other ways that this child might need me to be with them and how this child might need me to respond. To see what kinds of play and resources could help this child. As well as the usual knowledge skills and development of presence and reflecting, supervision has enabled me to have the confidence to try things out playfully.
A few examples include using jelly babies to communicate experiences that could not be put into words, to have a dog in a session, to talk with a child while they were in a box on the school stage, and be free to run around in role play wearing a paper cape and glasses. This was a significant shift in this child’s play development and process.
Research participants tell me that they want an experience of being supervised which is empathic, challenging and creative.
Play therapists, counsellors and psychotherapists want supervisors to help them develop their practice. Play and creative therapists say that they want to practice creative ways of working in supervision. They say this helps them to get into the child’s world and see things they hadn’t noticed before. It means they are more creative and playful in sessions. I think this helps children and young people to be met in their world. Clients can also be held emotionally whilst they access hurt and fractured parts and integrate them.
These experiences and thoughts are the driving force for developing and delivering our Certificate in Creative Counselling Supervision who are a year post qualifying. Of course, we need to learn the theory and practice with peers and tutors. But there needs to be more. An organisation that I used to work for had a group whose focus was “to help the helpers”. I’m not sure about the phrase per se, but the spirit of it is about coming alongside people who are being alongside other people experiencing difficult processes. That is supervision.
Supervision courses for counsellors should help people access healing and find their sense of Self.
It’s amazing when students wake up to their own potential and find new ways of being that fit with who they are. I love seeing practitioners developing their work beyond what they thought was originally possible. And I love learning from supervisory practice and my supervisees’ clients. It helps me to keep being open and playful in my work.
Want to find out more?
Join us on our Certificate in Creative Counselling Supervision course starting Sept – click here for entry requirements, application form and to book