In supervision generally, a more experienced practitioner is available to a less experienced one to discuss the latter’s work and its impact on them, and to support them in the planning and doing of this work. In some quarters however, supervision is met with distrust and anxiety: it has come to mean micro-management, judgement, shame and failure. However, the intention of supervision is to be positive and enriching, providing a balance of support and challenge that encourages reflection and prompts the supervisee towards excellence in practice.
Michael Carroll describes supervision as a way of seeing things differently, literally applying a ‘super-vision’ that brings new eyes, new perceptions and new vision to the work: a super way of visioning.1 This super-vision involves being prepared to take on new ways of seeing. In attempting to see with new eyes, the supervisor attends to the professional needs of the supervisee as well as to the work and the manner in which it is undertaken. Crucially, this endeavour to ‘see’ also applies to the supervisee’s inner processes, including their experience of themselves in the work as well as their shifting perceptions of these events and encounters. In supervision the supervisor’s role is to see the world through the eyes of the supervisee and to see it bigger, more broadly. Ultimately, when entering the world of supervisees, the supervisor is also entering the world beyond them: the world of the organisation and the community whom the supervisee serves. And to whom the supervisee and supervisor are ultimately accountable.
Tony Nolan is dedicated to the delivery of high quality, multi-disciplinary supervision. He has more than 30 years experience working reflectively with groups and individuals. Tony is a senior accredited supervisor, a full member of the Supervisors Association of Ireland and an associate of the Institute of Pastoral Supervision and Reflective Practice. He holds a postgraduate diploma in Consultative Supervision and is the author of Supervision as a Courageous Conversation, published in Enriching Ministry: the practice of pastoral supervision, (SCM 2014). Tony is actively involved in promoting supervision in a wide variety of settings and has a particular interest in creating a supervision culture that is multi-disciplinary .