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Supervision: Self-report, process notes, audio recording, video recording, and live supervision

Posted Oct 11 2010 12:00am

Self-report is described as the most widely used supervisory model.  Self-report within the context of a supervisory relationship is troublesome for the same reasons that self-reporting is troublesome in the context of a therapeutic relationship… it’s not always “objective.”  I don’t think people purposely misuse the self-reporting tool, but it is potentially an issue when the person reporting has a lack of insight or intuition.  The potential issues we need to be most aware of are those that are in motion and are totally unforeseen.  Because of the potential for lack of awareness, due mostly to inexperience, I would anticipate that self-report would leave all parties vulnerable to the inexperience of the supervisee.  Potential benefit is the relative ease of conducting this method, provider there is a relationship of trust and understanding between and among the supervisor and the supervisee.

Without, self-report is likely a method we will employ during our supervision process, but it should not be the only method we employ.  Process notes build on the self-reporting process by adding written record regarding content and interactions in the therapeutic process.  I support the concept that “if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”  I am already what you might consider a “documentation junkie”… so this is likely to be my strong suit.  We are required to keep detailed notes in both the clinical record and the case notes, so this should come easily to most competent clinicians.  It still has the drawback of the content having been filtered through a relatively inexperienced clinician… but I honestly believe that writing is a process that demands the inexperienced clinician reflect on, and subsequently justify, specific processes, strategies, questions, concerns, etc.  The second layer of documentation, when added to an oral self-report, gives the newly trained clinician the benefit of hindsight when and if a similar situation arises in the future… thereby making the experience more valuable for long term growth and development.

Recording, whether audio or video, is a valuable tool in that is allows for direct assessment that is not “filtered” by an untrained mind.  In my opinion, this is the single most effective (and time constraint friendly) way to get feedback from a supervisor directly.  Understanding that supervisors have their own caseloads, and their own lives outside of work… even the most dedicated supervisor can’t be expected to conduct live supervision (the most accurate and most valuable form of supervision) often.  Recording gives the supervisor the opportunity to review the content at their leisure, and without the pressure of having to serve a client “right this second” like live supervision.  It is a good balance between autonomy (on the part of the supervisee) and oversight (on the part of the supervisor).  I like this opinion… it would be my first choice among the methods of supervision.

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