How to use supervision

The Mindfulness Network CIC has published a model for mindfulness-based supervision that outlines in detail the framework our supervisors use within supervision. We recommend taking the time to read these pages and the paper: A Framework for Supervision for Mindfulness-Based Teachers: a Space for Embodied Mutual Inquiry http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-014-0292-4.

The initial 30-minute supervision session for a new supervisee and supervisor is an opportunity for you: to become acquainted; to complete and understand the supervision contract; and to explore how you can best work together. This lays the important foundations of your work together.

As a supervisee, you will determine the content of subsequent sessions and will be responsible for deciding what material to bring to supervision and how to apply the learning gained. Your supervisor may wish to be emailed in advance with a provisional agenda for the next supervision session in order to facilitate the best use of the time available. Taking time before your session to consider what you wish to bring to supervision is important. Often less is more, so a huge agenda may need to be cut down by considering what is most important to you. If you can, find time to practise and pause as you consider your agenda. If you can, take a few moments to practise before your session to help you to prepare.

"My supervisor played an important and very supportive role in my learning during training. After an initial phone call, when we had a chance to get to know each other, we agreed to have monthly supervision phone calls. Because I was not intending to run any eight-week courses this year, it felt appropriate to have this amount of supervision time. I needed somewhere where I could attempt to integrate my experience of the course and my continuing practice in a way that didn't fall back on an attempt to overly analyse. We settled on a format where I was able to list an agenda at the start of the phone call of what we might consider. Early on, there was time to reflect on what was dominating my experience at the time. This could mean me stumbling to find the right words to express my experience. Sometimes towards the end of a session, I would highlight what I might bring to the next supervision."

Although you primarily set the agenda, your supervisor, who is there to guide you, may also wish to add agenda items. Supervisors can help us see blind spots so sometimes the interesting parts of supervision are what we don't wish to bring! Building trust in your supervisor allows you to work in a meaningful and honest way with each other - letting your self be open.

Your supervisor will be responsible for offering mentoring, guidance and support. This may include exploring your personal meditation practice, and bringing the practice of teaching and inquiry into the supervision sessions. The supervision process will aim to encourage investigative dialogue and exploration around the issues brought to supervision or arising in the session. This is seen as a two-way learning process, though advice and guidance may be offered as appropriate.

"For me, the experience of supervision is one of profound inquiry, with the teaching as one's practice. I found that not only did my teaching develop but that my own mindfulness practice also deepened - perhaps not surprisingly. My supervisor walked alongside me, asking deep, sometimes challenging questions, but always with a tenderness, genuine interest and lightness of touch that I found liberating."

Also consider what process supports you after supervision. How are you going to incorporate this learning into your mindfulness-based practice and teaching? Perhaps you choose to give yourself some time for reflection, or keep a diary/ log of your supervision."

Supervisee Testimonials
...provides me with a space in which together we can explore my teaching and personal practice and my internal processing. The safety of this space and the trust that has built up between us, enables me to go to the edges of my practice and to hold more tenderly my human-ness. Our relationship supports my development and deepens my understanding of mindfulness.

In individual supervision .. [my supervisor] was always well prepared, structured and kind as well as full of humor and lightness when asked for. She always brought the discussion back to the essence of the MBSR curriculum and the intention behind particular interventions. I further could bring challenging clients / situations in the classroom into the discussion and invariably was supported and assisted in my endeavors to provide a safe and beneficial environment to participants. It was particularly valuable to question over and over again 'why' I did certain things and how my interventions fitted into the wider MBSR curriculum.

I feel such gratitude for .. supervision. We have a space of deep mutual respect and regard where I can explore whatever is arising for me, celebrating the good and unpicking and embracing the challenges warts and all. Her wisdom and experience is invaluable and she shares it with such a light touch, some of the learning is direct, through role play, phrases that she uses and on another level her teaching is by osmosis, because she embodies it.

..combines straight talking with warmth, humour and steadiness, she is a rock, and what is so amazing is that her supervision is also empowering and I have felt myself growing in steadiness. When she suggested reducing our supervisions next course I thought 'Oh no!' because I love sharing and learning with her each week and I gain such confidence from knowing she's there after each session. I also thought 'Yes' because she is absolutely right and, thanks to her, I am ready for that step.

As a supervisor .. embodies the role of the best mother, midwife and guide. Some of my proudest teaching moments and insights have grown from her guidance. Thank you with all my heart.