Talk it through: The benefits of Supervision

Before I came to work at terptree, I ran my own business.  I had always worked for someone before, so it was a different choice for me.  I was working with groups of clients, coaching them around weight management, so you can imagine I got to hear lots of different stories, some of which inspired me and some of which saddened me.  I feel privileged that people would share some of their deepest secrets with me and allow me to be part of their journey. During this time, I experienced all sorts of emotions.  Frustration, sadness, worry, anger, and joy, to name but a few.  One of my clearest memories is standing in my kitchen and acknowledging I was feeling anger at something that had happened with a client.  This was a real breakthrough for me to be able to acknowledge what I was feeling and say to myself that it was okay for me to feel the anger under the circumstances (the details of which I won’t go into in the interest of confidentiality). That first year (and subsequent three years) that I worked on my own was both rewarding and frustrating in equal measure.  No longer did I have my own PA to organise my day, nor a team of staff to help bear the load.  No longer did I have a group of peers with whom I could share my frustrations or a boss I could go to for advice or backup.  I did everything from the filing to the washing up to creating business plans and strategies.  The learning curve was steep, and the one thing that got me through it was having a supervision group that I met with each month. When I started out, my supervision group was with people I had trained with; we were all in the same boat, new to the industry and running our businesses.  Our supervisor was trained and qualified to carry out this role and was someone who had been running the same business.  There was a huge benefit to this, as we were all coming up against new challenges and dilemmas every week.  Without that monthly group, I would have struggled with the isolation I sometimes felt, with those issues that I didn’t know how to resolve on my own and even just looking at the same four walls by myself each day. After my first year, I joined a group with a few people with much more experience than me.  Again, the benefits were huge.  With them, I learnt to express my feelings (like yes, I’m angry, and yes, that’s okay).  I could talk through some really difficult issues and get advice, and I was also able to offer support and guidance to my peers (none of whom made me feel like the new girl!) Reflecting on this time, as much as I loved running my own business, I recognised that the isolation I felt was what eventually pushed me back into employment, working in a team and having the support of people around me.  Had I not had those monthly supervision sessions, I would have found it hard to cope, and the money I spent on them was an investment in myself.  Not just my personal development, my well-being, and my business. As I know that anyone who runs their own business, freelances, or works alone can feel isolated, I thought I would share some of the key things that supervision and talking things through with my peers brought me:
  • I found role models who inspired and motivated me. I could study and learn from their actions, which helped me grow;
  • I was among people who guided and supported each other.  Spending time with them helped to build my confidence, change my perspective and learn how to respond differently to challenging situations;
  • I was with people who shared my values and embodied qualities that I admired.  Through them, I discovered new ways to put my own beliefs into action; and
  • I teamed up with mentors who helped me sharpen my skills and stay up-to-date in my field.  This helped me work smarter and deepened my job satisfaction.
Today, I thank you for your time in supervision and its impact on my life.  It has helped me model their positive examples and be aware of my personal strengths and areas where I need to learn and grow. Many of you may be in supervision, and I would love to hear the benefits you have found from it. For those of you who aren’t or who are considering it, I can only say that I highly recommend it to everyone who embraces self-development and reflective practice.  I know my profession was different from yours, but deep down, I imagine some of the frustrations, joys, and worries will be like mine.