As psychologists, we will most likely supervise practicum students, interns, or postdoctoral students at some point in our careers. Campbell (2006) explains that the key to a successful supervisory relationship is to create an atmosphere of safety and trust, promote shared understanding and agreement about the tasks and goals required, and be fair, respectful, and empathic toward the needs of supervisee.
One of the most important things a supervisor can do is to show the supervisee that you care about them on a personal level. The supervisee also needs to know that the supervisor genuinely cares about them on a professional level and is invested in their development as a psychologist. If a supervisee feels that the supervisor views them as a burden or another task to check off on their list of “to do’s,” a trusting relationship will never be developed. If a trusting relationship is never developed, the supervisee and his or her clients both suffer. A supervisee in this type of relationship will not feel that they can go to their supervisor for consultation without feeling that they are going to be brushed off quickly. Thus, the supervisee will stop going to the supervisor for advice.
Some personal attributes that have been identified as essential to effective supervision include trustworthiness, authenticity, genuineness, openness, tolerance, respect, empathy, flexibility, an ability to confront, a concern for supervisee’s growth and well-being, and sense of humor (Campbell, 2006). Often times, a supervisor will be the driving force that provides confidence to a training psychologist. What an amazing and influential responsibility! We might not always know the best answers as future supervisors but this can be easily forgiven when a supervisee and supervisor have a supportive and trusting relationship with each other.
Campbell, J. M. (2006). Essentials of clinical supervision. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Cindy A. Geil, M.A.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern