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*Although I had supervised professionals on-the-job in the high technology and services industry for many years, I am a relatively recent entry into the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy Supervision. I started on-the-job dyadic  Clinical Supervision in 2014, continuing with peer-to-peer supervision models. In 2015, I completed a University level course on Clinical Supervision at the University of Ottawa (EDU 7000). Since then, I have developed a hybrid supervision model as a pragmatic solution applicable to urban and rural environments.


Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Supervision model

Since issues related to the legalities of Clinical Supervision, in particular around liabilities and client responsibilities, are still under consideration among leading Canadian Counselling Scholars, P2P affords a quick, inexpensive, and well proven methodology to address the lack of supervision afflicting many organizations and service providers. Each counsellor keeps responsibility over their own clients, while the collective knowledge allows for enhanced reflection, informing the participants while improving their service capabilities to their clients. In addition, clients benefit from the collective knowledge of the professionals practitioners. I offer a hands-on workshop on Peer to Peer Supervision models which can be used as a way to launch and implement it. If interested, please contact me for more details.

What is hybrid [clinical] supervision?

My initial personal experience with hybrid clinical  supervision (HS) has been very positive. HS supervision is defined in this brief write-up, as “the supervision model using combined FTF meetings and diverse forms of technology supported communications, including yet not limited to Skype and Face-time, cellular and/or landline telephone, asynchronous email, and text messaging”. Current research indicates that students are equally satisfied with distance learning as they are with face-to-face (FTF) learning; in addition, the hybrid model of supervision has proven to be a positive experience for students (Conn, Robert, & Powell, 2009; Wright & Griffiths, 2010). In a recent online survey (Finn & Barak, 2010), 95 % of counsellors (N=93) believed that e-counselling is “appropriate for interpersonal and social issues”. As clinical supervisor and therapist, and having used a combination of FTF and technology based supervision for the last two years, I find myself in general agreement with these concepts.

After two years, I conclude that an HS supervision model may be the much needed answer to the pressing need for supervision outreach in rural areas. HS supervision overcomes geographical barriers, meeting the need for outreach to rural areas, and removing most time/space restrictions. A close, trusting and durable interpersonal working alliance still needs to be established between supervisor and supervisee. Constant access to qualified supervision results in supervisees becoming mobile, thereby supporting an extensive number of geographically well-spread clients in large rural areas of our Region.

As often happens with technology-based counselling solutions, there may be some potential hindrances. There may be loss of spontaneity and non-verbal clues may be hindered. However, writing down inquiries and responses enhances reflection time on information, providing a permanent record and ensuring provision of more effective, well thought and researched feedback, increasing self-reliance, and fostering supervisee autonomy. More re-reading, reconsidering, restating and reflecting can be done, because the making of the meaning ought to be done standalone.
When puzzled, uncertain, or just when preparing to see a client, have you paused to gather your thoughts, often wondering what others would be doing if facing similar predicaments? Well, if you have cellular or another technology based access, you can read, browse, consult and even ask direct questions to valued colleagues and supervisors. Personally, more than once I have been able to find a hint, a clue, thereby locating the proverbial “tip of the thread” arguably leading my client to happier outcomes.

I tell my supervisees that systematic exploration of their concerns, informed by reputable quality means at their disposal, following ethical principles, and considering combined supervisor/supervisee experience, constitutes the leading path to becoming a practice-ready and independent professional. Pending some valid technical, ethical, and power and control issues, there may be powerful solution available implementing a Hybrid Supervision model.

Finn, J., & Barak, A. (2010). A descriptive study of e-counsellor attitudes, ethics and practice. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 10 (4): 268-277
Conn, S., Roberts, R., & Powel, B. (2009). Attitudes and satisfaction with a Hybrid Model of counselling supervision. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2): 298-306
Wright, J. & Griffiths, F. (2010). Reflective practice at a distance: Using technology in counselling supervision. Reflective Practice 11(5): 693-703

Peer-to-peer Supervision