The focus is on the path that you are walking. See the steps you take, and notice the effort and emotion in them. Supervision is about you. Yes, you talk about other people, but the focus is on your responsibilities and responses.
Your home life and your heart life matters, but if these take up most of the supervision time you probably need to take them elsewhere for the attention they deserve.
So, how do you make the most of supervision?
It is your job as the Supervisee to bring stuff to work on in supervision. This is your time and you set the priorities. So please do a bit of preparation before-hand. (If you never have time for this then that might need to be the topic for supervision!)
Here are three suggestions for things to keep an eye out for - excellent stuff for the work of supervision:
1. Goals. 'Ka mua, ka muri'
Supervision is purposeful, and oriented to what you are achieving and hope to achieve.
In Maori the past is what we see before us, 'ka mua', and the future is behind us, 'ka muri'. So we 'walk backwards into the future.' Past, present and future co-exist and are tethered together through ancestry and action.
Goal-setting, then, is about looking back at where we have come from, how we are made, who we know ourselves to be in God's eyes. Supervision will help you name what you are working towards, and what you need to learn in order to fulfil your calling.
Supervision is (or should be!!) as much about celebrating successes and affirming strengths as about dealing with problems.
- See supervision as a tool for your professional development.
- Share your training and learning goals, and discuss how new learnings fit in your context.
- Look forward to telling your supervisor something which went well!
2. Red Flags. Raruraru
As well as the good stuff, supervision is a safe place to bring the hard stuff. 'Raruraru' is trouble, swirling, disturbed, disrupting trouble. Every ministry is touched by 'raruraru': conflict, frustration, anxiety, disappointment. Ministry itself is drawn to trouble, as we courageously walk with people "through the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23) and out the other side. But these things can take us to the very edges of our competence and capacity to cope.
Bring 'red flags' to supervision - things which are uncomfortable, worrying or upsetting.
Good supervision is constantly aware of good ethics. For every dilemma or conflict, supervision aims for:
a) role clarity. What is my responsibility in this situation?
b) accountability. Which framework do I work in?
c) honesty. Every 'dodgy' agenda tries to hide (John 3:20-21). Supervision calls for courage in self-awareness, confession and ruthless honesty with God. What do I not want to tell my supervisor??
d) skills and strengths. What skills do I bring to this problem? What skills am I growing?
e) justice. Ethics upholds those who have the least power. Am I on the side of the vulnerable?
3. Wellbeing. Hauora
Your wellbeing is a primary focus of supervision. The wellbeing of those you care for is the secondary focus.
It is tempting to spend a lot of a supervision session talking about other people and their problems. My encouragement is to not share any more details about anyone else than you need to – and supervisors should not ask for lots of information. Say just enough to be clear about what your dilemma is and explore options for how you will respond in the situation with as much calm and wisdom as you can muster. Supervision is not about solving other people’s problems!
Bring to supervision any concerns you have for your own welfare. Your supervisor needs to keep a close 'watching brief' on your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. If your supervisor starts having serious concerns for you, or someone that you care for, they reserve the right to tell someone (e.g. the Bishop), whether or not you give them permission.
Talk about the things you do to look after yourself. How will you exercise this week? What will help you sleep better? When are you taking a holiday?
Supervision is not the place for marriage counselling, but your spouse's wellbeing, and your whanau, is just as (even more??) important than those you work with.