It feels like everyone else is handling this career smoothly and you are drowning. You wonder if other areas of social work have similar difficulties and successes. For a career that is all about connecting with people, you feel so isolated at times.
Group supervision is one way to combat these things. Today, I’m here to tell you why it’s so important and explain why GOOD group supervision is crucial.
Why Is Group Supervision So Important?
The social work field can be so isolating. Sometimes, it feels like we are on an island trying to do everything on our own. Clients, coworkers, bosses, referrals sources, etc are always asking us for something. It can be draining and overwhelming.
New therapists frequently experience burnout.
New therapists often get wrapped up in completing their to-do list. You want to keep everything in check and provide the best care possible. This causes burnout. One way to fill your cup back up is to find support in a consistent manner. Group supervision does not only provide those necessary hours towards our licensure. Successful group supervision can help you avoid the fast rate of burnout in this profession.
Group supervision is important not only important to our learning and development; it is also a self-care activity.
Self-care is what we tell our clients to do. We even recommend it to our co-workers. Yet, we oftentimes find it hard to take our own advice, especially during work hours. Group supervision is a way to schedule some time to talk about what you need in your workday. It allows you time to stop, assess, and be mindful of how you are handling what is happening and the daily stressors of the career. Group supervision helps your career development as well as support you while you do the difficult work.
As therapists, it is easy to lose the sense of community with others in the same field.
Group supervision provides a place where you can receive support from others who understand the exact challenges that you are feeling. It is crucial to give yourself an hour a week to connect with others who are doing similar things. You will get validation in knowing you are not alone in feelings, emotions, frustrations, and struggles of this work. Having a strong support system is necessary- not just for questions and brainstorming- but also for having a safe place to connect with others.
Group supervision allows us to grow without pressure or fear.
When your direct supervisors is also your boss, it may feel embarrassing to ask questions. You don’t want to seem incompetent or risk potential consequences. A supportive and safe group supervision environment is the perfect place to these ask questions in a non-judgmental space. In group supervision, clinicians are welcome to be honest and vulnerable about their struggles. You can talk about areas where you are stuck and where you want to put more focus on professional development without the implications on employment.
Group supervision supports clinicians in increasing awareness of possible blind spots.
Diverse supervision groups expose you to a variety of clinical and cultural experiences. You can hear about cases and clients that you might not otherwise be exposed to in your own work setting. And, you can hear questions from others that you may not have thought to ask. Group supervision can be a wealth a knowledge waiting to be explored as you continue to learn. You get new ideas from others doing the same work who may have other experiences and perspectives. Interacting with clinicians working in different areas of mental health can often bring new ideas on how to handle cases or see things in a different light in order to better serve your clients.
So What Does Good Group Supervision Look Like?
My name is Annie Bertran and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I have been in many different group supervisions and have found some to be extremely helpful while others felt more like a waste of time. Through these experiences, I have identified the most important components of having a effective group supervision. These principles are what I use to guide group supervision at Montgomery County Counseling Center.
A Community Feel
In my experience, group supervision was most useful when I knew the others in my group on a deeper level. Certainly more than just name and occupation. We spent time getting to know each other to discover where our strengths and weaknesses lay. This allowed us to feel needed in the group- that we each brought an important component. This feeling of connection, and having an important role, was comforting. So was having expectation of what is needed from you in the group. It helped to create the next most important thing:
A Safe Space
Growth and development happens by being honest about how we are handling the career and by bringing up “taboo” topics. To do this efficiently, group members need to feel safe to be vulnerable with one another. You have to be able to admit where you feel lost or challenged. And, you have to be willing to take advice. So you need to have your defenses down. A safe space where we support each other creates a learning environment that makes the hour of supervision useful.
Equality in Group Thinking
I have been in groups where the supervisor over shares. Or, where the group members look towards the supervisor for all the answers. This causes us to miss one of the greatest parts of group supervision… group thinking! Group supervision should be a time where clinicians work together to help learn and create ideas. The supervisor is only there for guidance. They should be lead conversation and guide the group without being in a position of superiority or all-knowing authority. All clinicians, whether fresh out of grad-school or seasoned and experienced, learn best from working together with one another.
Equality in Group Time
One large role of the supervisor is to foster the flow of the group. This means a supervisor moderates the time each group member has during their hour of supervision. It does not necessarily mean that speaking time is perfectly equal. But, it does mean that all clinicians have equal time over the long-term course of group supervision. You are encouraged to ask for support and provide it.
Time for Teaching
Without consciously assigning time to learn new things, group supervision can sometimes get held up in solving the most recent crisis or discussing the everyday frustrations. This can begin feeling stale and “same old, same old.” Effective group supervision should have time set aside to teach new skills. Group should be exciting for clinicians. We provide new tools to use in their daily work to deal with those ongoing crisis and frustrations.
This can be done differently depending on the clinicians’ needs and wants. One way this can be done is by picking a topic-of-the-month. Each clinician has a short amount of time to talk in a group about how they approach that topic. Another example of how this could work would be is spending time looking into ethical issues or different theories that apply to the clinician’s work.
Group supervision is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.
Group supervision can be one of the highlights of your workweek. You can address the frequent feelings of burnout while working towards the supervision hours you need to move forward in your field. Well run group supervision is essential to your growth, networking, and resilience in your career as a therapist.
Want to join Group Supervision for therapists in Maryland at MCCC?!
If you’re ready to take the next step in your career and get some great clinical group supervision, we would love to speak with you. Follow these steps to begin supervision with our counseling clinic based in Rockville, MD:
- Check out our group supervision offerings and email us to get started,
- Reach out to Annie our group supervision facilitator if you have specific questions,
- Begin clinical supervision and find empowerment as a clinician!
Other Educational Opportunities for Therapists Offered at Montgomery County Counseling Center:
If you’re a therapist looking for consultation on challenging cases, our founder Laura Goldstein offers those opportunities. She also offers therapist training and public presentations on a variety of mental health topics.
About the Author
Annie Bertran, LCSW-C is a licensed certified social worker-clinical and Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. Annie obtained Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Annie has extensive training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). She has worked across several settings over the past decade and has extensive experience with adolescents and young people transitioning into adulthood. Annie sees telehealth clients in both Maryland and Virginia. She also provides clinical supervision for Maryland LMSWs and LGPCs.