Frequently Asked Questions About Online Supervision

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Thinking about some of the most frequently asked questions about online clinical supervision may help you to get the most out of your online supervision relationship.

Please note: I am no longer accepting new supervisees, but I have kept this article in place for historical interest and because I hope that many of the questions here may still be worth pondering for practitioners considering working with other supervisors.

Online Supervision FAQ

If you’re looking into online supervision, these are a few of the questions that might come to mind. Having a look through these in advance can help you to get the most out of the supervision relationship — and to decide how well the approach I take to supervision matches up with your own preferences and your own aims for the experience.

You can learn more about my own approach on the separate page about my Philosophy of Supervision.

Do you have any eligibility requirements as to who you will accept as a supervisee?
I ask that all supervisees be members of a recognized professional organisation with an ethics code and a complaints procedure. For psychologists, this might be an organisation like the American Psychological Association or the British Psychological Society, while for counsellors or psychotherapists, this might include the National Board of Certified Counselors or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Please be aware that I work only with a strictly limited number of online supervisees at any one time, and both of us need to believe that we will be able to work together effectively; so, although membership in a recognized professional organisation is a pre-requisite, it is not by any means a guarantee that we will be able to work together. I provide online supervision services under Terms of Service which are very similar to those for my online counselling and online therapy practice.
Are you there mainly for me or mainly for my clients?
My primary focus in supervision is on the practitioner and her experiences; the ongoing therapeutic relationship between her and her clients often makes up a large part of that experience, although it may also include broader professional development or personal areas, as well as practice development. In other words, my supervision services are centred on the practitioner herself, rather than on the practitioner’s clients. That is not to say I won’t offer feedback on work with an individual client when asked, but I rarely engage in joint consultations about the client as a third party.
If this approach differs greatly from how you are accustomed to using supervision, it is probably worth thinking about how and whether this type of approach might fit with your accustomed way of working. Could it be a benefit, or would it be a distraction? Could there be a constructive tension between our ‘default’ ways of working, or would it impair your focus?
Will you supervise my face-to-face work, or just my online work?
I am happy to include face-to-face counselling or therapy work within the scope of online supervision, but generally speaking most practitioners prefer to maintain a second supervisory relationship whic focuses specifically on face-to-face work. As a general rule, I believe that as practitioners become more experienced and more confident with their online work, the substance of supervision comes to focus more and more on the therapeutic process, with comparatively less time spent on the mechanics of working online. As that occurs, practitioners may find that they prefer to use one supervisor for both activities.
I’m a psychologist; how does your online supervision compare with the supervision I received while training as a psychologist?
I am not a psychologist, but a significant proportion of practitioners who contact me for online supervision are trained as psychologists rather than as counsellors or psychotherapists. As a result, I’ve sometimes become aware of important differences in background assumptions about what supervision means. If you are a psychologist, you may find supervision with me differs from supervision you have received during your training as a psychologist. For example, you may find that I am less focused on case management and more focused on supporting you as a practitioner; you may find that I am less focused on teaching you and more focused on helping you to develop yourself; you may find that I am less focused on catching your mistakes and more focused on helping you to enhance your own capacity for self-reflection; you may find that I relate to you less as a ‘trainee’ and more as a peer.
I work using model X; are you an expert in model X?
If it is important to you that I be familiar with the specific counselling or therapy approach you use in your own work, please check the pages on my counselling practice philosophy and/or the page about me as a counsellor at my practice site to learn more about my background and training.
Whatever your theoretical orientation, I aim to understand supervisees’ experience as best I can from their perspective — so, while I believe it can be helpful to understand the concepts and jargon of a given school of thought, I am more concerned about what specifically a supervisee is experiencing in her practice, as distinct from how that experience might be captured or represented by a specific theoretical model.
I haven’t done online counselling or therapy before. Will you teach me how to do it?
Some people who contact me about online supervision have already undertaken basic training with one of the many private consultancies which have sprung up promising to prepare practitioners to expand their practice into the online realm; unfortunately, most have found that these courses did not prepare them for the actual mechanics of online practice and did not offer them adequate placement opportunities to provide online counselling or therapy to real online clients. (Some have completed courses without having had any opportunity to conduct real supervised online practice.) Others have steered clear of these introductory courses but have put a great deal of personal effort into informing themselves about online practice and have spent time reflecting and thinking about how to apply their face-to-face therapeutic experience to online contexts. In any case, I am very willing to work with whatever skills and experience with online work a supervisee may already have acquired.
Having said that, I do not provide online supervision services primarily as a vehicle for training new online therapists.
Will you teach me how to set up my online practice?
Although I am happy to work with online practitioners at all stages of their practice development, I do not provide online supervision services primarily as a vehicle for business consulting on how to set up an online practice.
If you are interested primarily in counselling or psychotherapy practice business mentoring, or in online supervision with a major component of business development, please note this on your online supervision welcome questionnaire, and we can explore your needs in more detail.
If I work with you as an online supervisor, will you send me referrals?
No.
I do not ordinarily mix online supervision with referrals or with any other type of business or personal or professional relationship except business mentoring. Any arrangements for potential referrals which could create a dual relationship are undertaken only after very close mutual scrutiny.
Why do you ask supervisees to complete a questionnaire and pay for an initial consultation, rather than fielding queries for free?
Many potential supervisees very understandably have questions they’d like to explore before committing to a supervision relationship, and in face-to-face or telephone work, these types of questions are often addressed in an initial meeting with time boundaries agreed in advance (typically one hour). However, it is challenging to maintain time boundaries when fielding queries asynchronously via email, and as a result, I have previously spent many hours answering online supervision queries via email. The sheer size of that time commitment for “just one more question” finally became unfair to my paid clients and supervisees, so I am now treating everyone the same by asking serious potential supervisees to complete my intake procedure and make an initial payment (which is also part of my identity verification process).
I hope that by providing a large body of information about online supervision here in this section of the site, I will have enabled you to form a good impression in advance as to whether you’d like to move forward with online supervision together.

What Else?

If you are considering online supervision, I would also encourage you to read the separate page on reasons not to go for online supervision. If that doesn’t discourage you too much, and you’d like to get started, I look forward to hearing from you!

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