Supervision is a fairly new concept in the massage profession but one that I feel will be the way for massage therapists to get the recognition and the clients that one needs to make a really great living while doing something that you love.
If you aren’t familiar with supervision, it is quite simply just all about you. It isn’t someone telling you to do something or someone telling you are doing something wrong (or right even!) Supervision is the process of working with a more experienced massage therapist for the purpose of getting the support you need so that you will be able to take the steps you need in creating your ideal massage business. It is about whatever you have going on at the moment in your business from learning to talk to clients in a way that they feel compelled to make an appointment with you and to dealing with the many feelings and thoughts that come up for you when you are working with people. It isn’t psychology or counseling. Most basically it is just listening and being a support system for YOU!
I found supervision back in about 2002 – or rather it found me. I was burned out from giving too much and not making enough money. I was involved in setting up workshops for a teacher that I was studying with and the training in itself was more draining than positive. As a result I found myself literally spinning around and going nowhere. I got a very serve case of vertigo that would come and go leaving me unable to work much. I was always canceling on clients because I was too sick to work.
I started reading a series of articles by Jack Blackburn on “Caretaking” that really hit home. I attended a 3 hour workshop with him at a convention and was then hooked on supervision.
In one of his articles he says this about supervision:
In all helping professions it is necessary to discern whose needs are being met; the practitioner or the client… this is a major reason for supervision.
I asked a few friends to join me. At first we all thought that it would be more like him telling us what to do. That was not it at all. The hardest part was learning not to give advice to each other and it still is a challenge today although we are much better and more aware of the underlying need to fix and give advice.
I have to say though that the more deeply I looked at my reasons for helping and some of the issues that lead me to burnout I can see how much my sessions used to be filled with ‘caretaking’ and not ‘caregiving’.
Supervision is the process of working with a more experienced massage therapist for the purpose of getting support in whatever stage you are at in building your massage career.
Peer Supervision defined by Webster is to oversee, direct or manage. The term supervision makes me think of a supervisor in a business setting who just sits back and tells me what to do.
The type of supervision I am talking about comes from other medical professions such as psychology, social work and nursing. The goal of supervision is to increase awareness and on-going self awareness of the therapist. Supervision is all about the therapist and whatever they need to become what they want to be! The more support we can get as therapists, the more support we can give to clients.
Supervision could maky your work life more satisfying by helping you understand stumbling blocks that get in your way and by giving you support where you need it, for instance, with setting limits, trusting your intuition or appreciating your assets. Good Supervision can give you confidence and free you up to do your best work ~ Nina McIntosh, Educated Heart
Supervisors are usually senior massage therapists who specialize in working with issues related to the therapeutic relationship that occurs in our practices. This is done through listening to how the therapist feels about whatever is going on in their practice. It does not mean that the supervisor is going to tell you what to do! The goal of supervision is to have the supervisor mirror what is going on in the therapist with the intent of having the therapist learn for themselves what it is they need to do in their practice. This is done through the process of active listening. During the process, the therapist may ask for the supervisors opinion knowing that is just that – their opinion.
Individual supervision is a one-on-one relationship where the therapist hires a supervisor. A commitment to meeting regularly is needed to build the relationship and work to find the core issues that the therapist is struggling with. Some common issues to work on are boundaries, transference and counter-transference, projections and specific details of practice. Working on an individual basis, the therapist gets the exclusive attention of the supervisor.
Some definitions of supervision:
‘A formal process of professional support and learning which enables individual practitioners to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance consumer protection and safety of care in complex clinical situations. It is central to the process of learning and to the scope of the expansion of practice and should be seen as a means of encouraging self-assessment and analytical and reflective skills’ (Vision for the future 1993). ]
Butterworth & Faugier (1992) said supervision refers to a range of strategies, including: ‘preceptorship, mentorship, supervision of qualified practice, peer review and the maintenance of identified professional standards’ and was: ‘both a personal and professional experience’.
Swain (1995) differentiates supervision in contrast to more well-known procedures: ‘(supervision is)…not psychotherapy or counseling…nor is it directive management, individual performance review or staff appraisal. It is not a form of disciplinary procedure…it is not any of those things which some nurses seem to fear it might be or could be used for’.
When to use Supervision
- Dealing with challenging clients such as those that are controlling, demanding or difficult to deal with.
- Feeling like you are drained after working with clients.
- Feeling sexually attracted to clients
- Feeling bored or uninterested in your work. Falling asleep yourself while giving massage.
- Feeling resentful of clients or your job or your massage practice.