Focusing-Oriented Supervision

My professional practice and life benefits from having a supervisor who is Focusing Oriented and I long to hear more said on the topic of Focusing-Oriented Supervision, especially Supervision which comes from the philosophy of Gendlin. Here I offer some thoughts on what Focusing Oriented Supervision could mean, while I spend the next few years studying Gendlin’s A Process Model and Experience and Creation of Meaning if this is an area that interests you please get in touch. My hope is that this could lead to a Working Group on Supervision-of-Supervision for our Focusing Community. As therapists we all engage in Supervision, we spend money, time and energy on it and I hope for us to have the best and most suitable Supervisory relationships and critical thinking around what they are and what we want them to be.

If as Focusing-Oriented Therapists (FoT) seek to relate with the client’s client  and through therapy, the client learns to tend this relationship in themselves, then as Focusing-Oriented Supervisors  we relate with a FoT who already tends this inner process with herself and in her therapeutic relationships, so this mesh of relationship (inner and outer/professional and personal) might be developed in supervision as developed in Gendlin’s A Process Model and Experiencing and The Creation of Meaning.

The aim of the Focusing Oriented Supervisory relationship is for the therapist to be increasingly able to attend to the needs of their external client’s and be the relationship that client needs. This is possible because the therapist’s own inner client is getting the support she needs, both in supervision and through the internalisation of this supervisory relationship in conjunction with all other healing relationship the therapist has experienced. 

The supervisory conversation is whatever the relationship implies, in terms of content it might be explicitly or implicitly about client work. We know its functioning well because the therapist feels able to support her clients despite changes in the therapist, therapist-client relationships and their environment. It provides explicit safeguarding and professional support, a place to re-experience relationships the therapist offers and client material the which has ‘stayed with the therapist’. In Focusing Supervision, we do not attempt to separate the therapist and the client first but foreground the therapist’s professional experience (which includes their personal experience) for the ‘benefit’ of the client. 

We are respectful to client material and hope that if the client heard our conversation at the level of intention they would feel cared for. The purpose of sharing client content is not to describe the client and make suggestions, though this may sometimes happen and be useful, but as Focusers we do not assume to know the whole experience of the therapist, let alone the client, our intention of sharing content and process is to allow what remains of the therapeutic interaction in the supervisees experience to be reexperienced simply because it remains and is in some way ‘a stuck/stopped process’, and after sharing it the supervisee will hold it differently as something to be let go of (and release potential vicarious trauma) for the supervisee to receive emergent insights into what might be needed in the therapeutic relationship for the therapist to be the relationship that helps or what the supervisee needs for herself to take care of her inner experiencing.

Focusing Oriented Supervision is a professional sifting of what has been caught in client sessions, so it has a place to be heard because it remains. In addition different countries and regions and professional bodies have different legal and professional requirements of supervision, which is complex to hold as a global community, different requirements for record keeping, insurers and statutory requirements as well as record keeping for supervisees for references, further training and work opportunities. And as a global community with lots to offer having a common sense of how we hold what is distinct about this worldview is important. 

Get in touch.