Daryl Chow on Reigniting Clinical Supervision

Daryl Chow on Reigniting Clinical Supervision

by Lawrence Rubin
Clinician, researcher and author Daryl Chow teaches us how to reignite the fire of supervision in order to improve client outcomes.

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Supervision at the Crossroads

Lawrence Rubin: Good morning Daryl. Thanks for sharing your time with our readers. Your research and writing suggest that supervision as it has traditionally been practiced is in crisis. What is the crisis in the field of supervision that you are responding to in your work?
Daryl Chow: I think there are weaknesses in the status quo practice of supervision, and that is something that we should pay attention to and do something about. I think change needs to start to grow from what we know from the research, as well as from clinical practice in supervision. We need to do something that's closer towards two domains: helping therapists improve their performance and, while they're doing that, also emphasize what they are learning. So,
it's not just helping supervisors with what they're doing on a case-by-case basis, but also helping them to develop and evolve through time
it's not just helping supervisors with what they're doing on a case-by-case basis, but also helping them to develop and evolve through time.
LR: What does it mean to help supervisees or therapists grow and develop, as opposed to just performing in supervision?
DC: In my online course, Reigniting Clinical Supervision, we make an important distinction from the get-go between coaching for performance and coaching for development and learning. Coaching for performance is one way of doing clinical supervision where we help each therapist improve in the stuck cases they are presenting in supervision. This is indeed important in helping them work through the clinical issues that may be blocking progress or preventing them from making inroads in their work with clients.

But I also think what supervisors need to support is an undulating process of helping clinicians with their stuck cases, while also trying to glean general principles with which they can help clinicians then create or identify patterns that are showing up through these stuck cases. It is a matter of looking closely at the cases in which the clinician is not making progress in order to help them in their own personal and professional development. This transcends a case-by-case supervisory discussion in order to focus on the therapist’s growth edge; those skills and characteristics that are generalizable, or what Wendell Berry talks about in terms of agriculture, which is solving for patterns. So, these two worlds of coaching, or supervising for performance and development, need to come together in the supervisory relationship.

If you look at the literature right now from Edward Watkins and others who have done great work in the study of clinical supervision, we have not made any progress. If the outcome of effective supervision is reflected or measured in client improvement, we have not actually moved the needle.

Tony Rousmaniere and his colleagues wrote a paper in which they concluded that
the variance in client outcome accounted for by clinical supervision is less than 1%
the variance in client outcome accounted for by clinical supervision is less than 1%, which means not much, right? That's concerning, because we put so much time, effort, and money into supervision. So, while I don't think I would use such a strong word as crisis to describe the field of clinical supervision, there is definitely a need for change. I really think that we are seeing things slowly changing on the ground level and there are people who are trying to change what we have come to accept as standard practice in supervision. 

Supervising for Development

LR: Okay, so what is the supervisor actually working on when she is focused on the supervisee's development?
DC: Well, the short answer is specific stuff such as the supervisee’s learning objectives. And their learning objectives are based on their performance. I will give you an example. If a clinician was to seek help from a clinical supervisor, that clinician (the supervisee) would first need to have a baseline of their performance, not just at the client-by-client level, but based on a composite of cases that they're seeing that provides them with enough reliable client outcome data.

And then, from those results, they would try to figure out where they're at before deciding where they need to go and what issues they need to address in supervision. I think that's a critical first step, because better results in in clinical supervision as measured by client outcome are obtained sequentially, not simultaneously. By that I mean we need to figure out where the supervisee is at. If their clinical outcomes are average, that really doesn’t say much about what they need to do in order to improve their performance. It is a matter of taking the second step, which is zooming in or focusing on those areas of clinical practice and therapeutic relationship where that clinician needs to improve. Simply focusing on the fact that the clinician is “average regarding their clinical outcomes,” doesn’t tell the supervisor where she needs to focus her lens regarding the supervisee’s skills and development.

So, as an example, if a clinician’s performance was average compared to international benchmarks, the supervisor would then focus in on those cases in which the clinician was stuck. They might listen to some recordings of the clinician’s work to discover that the clinician and the client did not develop therapeutic goal consensus. And it is often the case that
goal consensus is one areas that's not often fleshed out or verified in the process of the first or even in subsequent sessions
goal consensus is one areas that's not often fleshed out or verified in the process of the first or even in subsequent sessions. You and I both know that the goalpost changes as we go, right?

Sometimes the goal is to figure out the goal, to figure out what is or should be the focus of the session. Then the therapist and supervisor work on that one specific area. And then—and this is the critical piece—if the clinician and client are indeed working on goal consensus, it's important for both the therapist and the client, as well as the therapist and the supervisor, to follow through with the work towards that goal and then determine if doing so actually had an impact on therapeutic outcome.  
LR: And just to define the outcomes variables you're talking about—are you talking about outcomes in the client progress, or in the supervisee’s behavior?
DC: I think you hit on an important note, because the feeling of benefit for the therapist does not mean actual benefit for the client that they work with. Remember, we're dealing with two steps removed from the office, so we need to make sure that the work we are doing with the supervisee translates into positive outcome for the client. It's almost like a paradox if you see two overlapping circles. Yes, it's about the supervisee’s performance, but if you focus purely on their performance, you're not going to go anywhere with the client. You're going to be riddled with anxiety. "Am I doing well? Am I doing badly?" And there's so much judgment involved.

We need to see the impact on our clients and see if our learning leads to impacting the people that we're working with. If the learning was focused on goal consensus, we want to see that it actually translates to an actual impact on the clients that you're working with on that level, on one client at a time. But we also want to see if that helps you to move up your effectiveness above your baseline. 
LR: It seems you're saying that, if a supervisor is good at his or her job and guiding the supervisee effectively in the deliberate practice of therapy, then the client will by definition improve.
DC: Wouldn't you expect that?
LR: I would, but isn't it possible that—and I'm not trying to be provocative—but that a supervisor may be very effective in guiding the supervisee or the clinician in deliberately practicing their craft, but the client doesn't improve? Does that mean that the supervision failed? Or might it just be that something was missed? In other words, can you have good supervision and still poor therapeutic outcomes? Or do poor outcomes in therapy mean that the supervision was not effective?
DC: That's a really good point that world-champion poker player, Annie Duke, talks about in her book, Thinking in Bets. She makes a very important distinction which I think we need to think about slowly and carefully. And the point that she was making is:
we tend to conflate outcomes with process
we tend to conflate outcomes with process.

She says that when we get a poor outcome, let's say in the game of poker, we think that our process is responsible for that outcome. She says we tend to conflate the two. If you take some time to think carefully about how you're making decisions, how you're building the process and making a good plan, then if the outcome is bad, don't make that conflation too quickly.

Because in the game of poker, just like in the game of life, there's a lot of random noise, a lot of things that are beyond your and my control. But if you understand with the help of a supervisor that you are working on something critical—in our case, goal consensus because we know the effect size for goal consensus is huge, then it becomes a matter of focusing more directly on building that particular skill in supervision, not other skills unrelated to goal consensus.

And if goal consensus is indeed important—even if one client doesn't work out well, you don't want to go and throw the baby out with the bathwater. You want to just go back and refine goal consensus building skills again. Close the loop. And this is one thing supervisors and therapists can do, is to make sure that, after a discussion, they close the loop.

It sounds so plain and simple, but I think it's really something that's lacking in supervision as well as clinical practice, that people don't really close the loop by figuring out ways to refine the important skills in supervision that actually impact client outcome. If you continue doing this with other clients, will this have an impact as well? 

Deliberate Practice

LR: Along these lines, you have an upcoming book, Better Results: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Therapeutic Effectiveness, with Scott Miller and Mark Hubble. How can supervisors use deliberate practice to improve not only their supervisee's performance but their own performance as supervisors?
DC:
When we are working in supervision... we are really working within a multi-tiered structure that includes the supervisor, supervisee and the client.
It's a brilliant question, and I know, Lawrence, we've talked about this. My belief at this point is I think that it is critical. We are really in the early days of this type of investigation, but I think it's an important area to work on, and here's why.

My belief is that knowledge is multilevel. When we are working in supervision, we are doing just that because we are really working within a multi-tiered structure that includes the supervisor, supervisee and the client. And let me just use an analogy from the world of music. I'm always impressed by not just what the musician does in a music studio or how they work. I'm always interested in who else is in the room. And one of the things that comes up very often for me is the role of the producer. Sometimes it's the group of artists itself, and sometimes it's someone else.

And a couple of people that stick out to me are Brian Eno, who has worked with Talking Heads, Madonna, U2, and Rick Rubin who has worked with death-metal bands like Slayer. He's worked with many Hip Hop artists. He's also worked with the late Johnny Cash. There’s something about being in the presence of these types of producers that brings out the best in the musicians.

My question is twofold. One, what the hell are these producers doing that brings out the best in the musician? But I also am interested in how I can help others and myself be able to become more like a coach or mentor the likes of college basketball’s John Wooden. And the one thing that I think is becoming a little bit clearer as I go is that we really need a system of practice, a way to systematically organize ourselves around how we think about supervision. So, when I say system, it just means as simple as: how do we track outcomes?

My mentor and collaborator, Scott Miller, talks a lot about feedback-informed treatment. To me, measuring what we value is key, because measurement precedes professional development, so it is critical to help people, supervisees in this case, to systematically track their outcomes and to have a system of coaching already in place by the time they come into supervision.

And then we develop a taxonomy of deliberate practice activities so we know where they're at in the baseline, how to help them figure out a way to deconstruct the therapy hour and then pick up little things that they can work on. So, I guess my short answer, or rather my long answer is really, to figure out a system that can function as a platform from which we can begin to work on the more nuanced stuff in the role of supervisor. Am I making sense about this? 

A Portfolio of Mentors

LR: You are indeed, Daryl, and related to this notion of the producer and artist working in collaboration, you recommended that clinicians build a portfolio of mentors. Does that mean that, even though supervision is, as you call it, a signature pedagogy, that clinicians should build a production studio of sorts with other professionals? 
DC: As much as supervision is a signature pedagogy for our field, what's interesting for me of late is how people reaching out for consults or coaching often follows having given up on working with a supervisor for various reasons, unless they are in an agency setting where that is provided. But, yes, I think the idea of a portfolio of mentors is to say that
if you can figure out what's your leading edge or the gap that you're trying to work on, your default supervisor may or may not have the knowledge to help you
if you can figure out what's your leading edge or the gap that you're trying to work on, your default supervisor may or may not have the knowledge to help you.

And what you want to do is to create a community of people that you can turn to, that you can talk with, and then maybe a certain person you turn to more routinely. For instance, I've known a supervisor for more than a decade, and I always return to her. But if there was something else that was missing, or I wanted to stretch out and pick another mind to think of it from a different perspective, I would reach out to other people, even people who are so-called experts, and send them an email. I would ask them, "What's the fee? Can I come talk with you?" And most people are friendly. 
LR: In a way, isn’t that what you are trying to provide through your online supervision training, Reigniting Clinical Supervision?
DC: My focus for Reigniting Clinical Supervision is to help clinical supervisors design better learning environments that sustain real development for therapists, so as to achieve better client outcomes. The choice of an online learning platform is not a mere substitute for live teaching. Instead, gleaning from the best of what we know of optimizing learning, adopting a “one idea at a time” drip-based method of delivery of content and maintaining learner engagement, helps the busy practitioner weave what they learn into practice, and return to renew and reconsolidate new knowledge as a result of being in the course with me and other clinicians/supervisors.

Here’s how I think about the difference between a live training and how Reigniting Clinical Supervision is designed: A real-time training/workshop is like a river. It is a constantly flowing torrent of ideas. If the learner steps out of the river for a few minutes, or needs some time to think, he is now behind. The learner may be able to ask questions but needs to constantly try and catch up and not fall behind. A chance for a revisit of the content after some time of reflection is not possible, with only the notes or slides that you've captured.
Online learning, on the other hand, is like a lake. The learner can step in and out of the water at her own time
Online learning, on the other hand, is like a lake. The learner can step in and out of the water at her own time, and pace herself as she moves along; the water remains the same. This stillness allows for pausing, revisiting the material, reflecting, and connecting with past knowledge. Online learning at its best allows for the learner to ask questions, revisit the materials, and for the person to master a difficult segment before moving on.
LR: Within this community of mentors model, there are different factors that predict therapeutic outcome. They include goal consensus, alliance and repairing therapeutic ruptures. Can the same principles be applied to improve supervisor performance and development?
DC: Hopefully, that's paralleled or modeled within the supervisory work. I would encourage supervisors to also elicit feedback within the supervision. And most of us do that, but it is also important to do it in a way that's a little bit more about a ritual. This would mean using some quick check-ins that give the supervisee some space to think about it, and then to explore the nuances of the supervisor/supervisee relationship. It's much harder when you really know somebody well, like the supervisor knowing the supervisee, to give feedback.
LR: Have you experienced working with expert clinicians who are lousy supervisors?
DC: I'm thinking of the converse. So, let me look back in my mind. I don't mean this in any disrespectful way because I really respect this person's work. Jay Haley of the strategic school of family therapy talked about this and said that he was really good as a supervisor, but not as good as a therapist [laughs].
LR: I think of myself as being a better supervisor and teacher than therapist. In your language, perhaps that’s because I have not deliberately practiced therapy.
DC: Yes, right.
LR: I've performed therapy, but in the words of Scott Miller, I've not deliberately practiced it. So, it's interesting that just because someone may be a very competent clinician, it doesn't mean that they have the patience or skill to guide a fellow clinician as a supervisee, and vice versa.
DC: This harkens back to your question about the role of training supervisors in how they do deliberate practice, because, to me, there are overlaps, of course, but there are also distinct skills required in their roles as supervisors and therapists.
The role of a supervisor requires some skill to be able to articulate the concepts without getting lost in the weeds of abstraction
The role of a supervisor requires some skill to be able to articulate the concepts without getting lost in the weeds of abstraction.

Cardinal Supervision Mistakes

LR: Talking about getting lost in the weeds, you wrote an article for us about seven mistakes in clinical supervision. If you were to pick the top two cardinal mistakes from that list of seven that supervisors make, which ones flash red to you, and what can supervisors to do about them? 
DC: This is tough because the language around mistakes is all negative. I think, for me, the one that I've seen in my own experience and through my own mistakes is that of too much theory talk.
I think we talk too much. On the ladder of abstraction, talk is quite high up there
I think we talk too much. On the ladder of abstraction, talk is quite high up there. Bear in mind, when we're in supervision and in the absence of the actual client, we spend all our time talking in abstractions, at the level of theories about the client rather than about the therapeutic relationship.

When we're doing that, we've got to bear that in mind, that we don't have that person there, and we're talking at the level of theoretical abstraction, so many steps removed from what is occurring between the supervisee and the client. It's very easy to speak of it from whatever orientation or whatever philosophy you hold, without joining the dots of what's going to ripple down into the actual therapeutic relationship where the real work is happening.

Another big mistake in supervision is that when the clinical work is stuck and the supervisee and client are not making progress, the supervisor may say something in an attempt at being supportive to the supervisee like, "Well, at least they keep coming back, right?" In this instance, the supervisor is doing little more than what I call, patting them on the back–encouraging the supervisee without giving her any clear direction out of the stuck situation.

I'm really conflicted about that statement that I hear very often. Is that good enough for you, that they still come back? Or what else? What else can we be thinking of? How do we escape this domain of just talking on their level and to be able to make some real impact?  
LR:
Another big mistake in supervision is...encouraging the supervisee without giving her any clear direction out of the stuck situation
I know that being able to effectively conceptualize a clinical case, to think about it from different theoretical perspectives, is important. But you're saying, Daryl, that sometimes we err on the side of overthinking the theory at the expense of guiding the supervisee in building the relationship with their client, and then we congratulate the therapist for minimal progress? Seems like damning by faint praise.
DC: Yes and no. I think all prudent supervisors know that therapeutic relationship really matters. And by therapeutic relationship, let's be clear, it's not just about the emotional bond, even though that is one critical part. But the other part is the focus, which is about the goals, the directionality, where it's going. The next is also about whether there is a cogent method for both the therapist and the client. Are we in agreement? Is there a fit in where we're going? All those things relate to the therapeutic alliance.

I think most people are focused about that. But as you will see in the upcoming blog that I am writing for Psychotherapy.net, I will be talking about the three types of supervisory knowledge. One type of knowledge is about the content knowledge, about the clinical case, about the psychopathology. Those things are necessary but not sufficient. The second type of knowledge is the process knowledge about how you engage with somebody who's, say, depressed? How do you engage with somebody who's anxious? That's a process or type of relating kind of knowledge. How do you have that kind of conversation? As David Whyte, the poet and philosopher, would say, "the conversational nature of reality." How do you engage in that? How do you come into being with another person into that field? But the third one is conditional knowledge, which is; if you're working with somebody who's depressed due to bereavement, it's going to be very different than when you're working with somebody who is depressed as well but due to, say, domestic violence. The context is very different, and you need to figure out a way of relating with them given the different situation. So, by considering all three of these in supervision; playing into the content knowledge, process knowledge and conditional knowledge, I think the supervisor can synergize them for the benefit of both the therapeutic work and the development of the supervisee. The supervisor and supervisee having this multi-level conversation will benefit both the client and the supervisee. 

The Humble Teacher

LR: What do you see as some of the important personal qualities of an effective supervisor or a clinician who might become an effective supervisor?
DC: For me, of course,
a good teacher is somebody who is willing to be a good student
a good teacher is somebody who is willing to be a good student. If I'm picking a supervisor for myself, I'm always looking for somebody who implicitly—and it's not something that people would say explicitly, is willing to be wrong, willing to seek the counterfactuals, and then to have by default a stance of humility not just because they're trying to act humbly or bragging about their humility.

This humble teacher will say, “Hmm. Oh, hang on a second. I've really never thought of that.” And they're rethinking. That, to me, is interesting. And it's not because they don't have a wealth of knowledge. It's because this is dis-confirming what they know. And that's so exciting. That's like fresh air, you know, when you're working with somebody that way.

Additionally, somebody who has mental models or mental representations and concepts in their head about different ways to think about clinical situations and suggestions for the supervisee. They know that when they're facing this kind of situation, they have what Gerd Gigerenzer calls fast and frugal heuristics. They have little maps of how they will approach stuff. You know, they've thought it through before. They have ideas in their memory bank that they will pull into their working memory.

And you know that because when they're just giving off-the-fly statements, you know that it's off the fly. But if you know that they've thought about it, you realize their mental networks are vast. They know that it's an “if-then” situation, and they're thinking about it and all kinds of communications. That excites me because that shows to you this person has done some thinking before meeting with you. 
LR: Is this what you refer to when you say that true experts think like novices, or beginning therapists, while true novices think they're experts? Is it related?
DC: I think so. [chuckles] I think so.
LR: I like that idea that the expert supervisor, who may or may not be an expert clinician, has these—what did you call them—fast and frugal heuristics? Was that the term that you used?
DC: That's right, and I mean that's the term from Gerd Gigerenzer, who studies cognitive science. He talks of the importance of having these sorts of heuristics. You know, the way we've been terming it is mental representation. Things that happen might not just be easily explained using therapeutic models but by different ways of thinking. Like, what do you do if you meet somebody who is angry or depressed in the session? These heuristics or maps are not like stock answers but are based on clear principles that flow from these mental representations. What do you do with somebody who doesn't have a goal? How do you work with them? They have a rough and ready guide.

At the Cutting Edge

LR: So, the supervisor should aspire to flexible thinking, drawing on different belief systems, different ways of looking at the human condition, different interpretations of the same clinical presentation? It sounds like the advanced supervisor is out at this cutting edge of creativity, untethered to any one way of thinking.
DC: Yes.

This domain of creativity is something I'm really interested in. I think one thing we need to remember about creativity is that it's about something novel and something useful coming together? Wouldn't it be great if supervisors were not restricted to thinking solely in terms of the field of psychotherapy in the course of doing their supervision, and could bring in greater creativity?

Just thinking about architecture, music, art—thinking about other aesthetic forms and how all of these can inform ways of thinking. Coming back again to the example about goal consensus, why do we need to only think about this within the domain of psychotherapy? Why don't we learn about how other fields and business organizations think about creating focus? 
LR: So, we should consider using a flexible system of metaphors that transcend psychology and psychotherapy. When we first contacted each other, I mentioned that there seemed to be almost a spiritual undertone to the way that you described your personal philosophy of living and helping. Am I seeing it correctly, that there's a certain spirituality or spiritual dimension to your work as a clinician and a supervisor, and perhaps we should embrace that as well?
DC: Well, I'm grateful that you picked that up. To me, the answer is yes. And I think that's personally a deep embedment in my life. I was raised a freethinker from my Singaporean days. You know, this means I'm free to think or whatever that means. But I converted to become a Catholic when I was 21. When everybody else was running out of the Church, I was going back in. So, to me, that was my start.

But I think, fundamentally beyond religion, what's really driving me on a first principle level is human dignity. And the way I think about this is that
if a person comes to seek help and opens up to another person, that's a sacred moment
if a person comes to seek help and opens up to another person, that's a sacred moment. We need to honor that. We need to figure out a way that we can help each other come alive, because it's not just about creating purpose and meaning, but it's really to help each other come alive. And the therapist needs to come alive. The therapist needs to be alive and kicking and playful and to be able to ignite that. And the therapist also needs help and guidance from a supervisor. And for the supervisor to do that, the supervisor also needs to come alive. 
LR: I remember Bill Moyer’s interview with Joseph Campbell at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. He said to Joseph Campbell, “So, you're saying that people are searching for the meaning of life?” And Campbell said, “No. People are searching for the experience of being alive.” How does that find its way into the world of supervision, that tripartite relationship between supervisor, supervisee, and client? Where does that element of being alive get infused in that three-level process? And whose responsibility is it?
DC: Sounds like a family.
LR: Yeah, doesn't it?
DC: Yeah. I think everybody is going to come into play. I think it is the interaction. It's this ecology of a systemic perspective that's going to be important. How does it come alive? You know, I think we need some kind of platform for this to work, which we have talked about. But I think it critical is to keep this conversation going. Once we see that therapists are working hard to improve in what they are doing—once they figure out the baseline, once they figure out what to work on based on the baseline, then they develop a system to help them do their practice on an ongoing basis. And that they see the payoff of what they're doing.

It's like your child who's worked hard for the math test and starts seeing see the result. There's the real payoff. I mean the whole temperature of the room changes. Their focus becomes more intrinsic. And at that point, the role of the guidance is going to evolve as well. There's always going to be state of change. You’re right when you pointed out that quote from Joseph Campbell as well. That's something I'm very familiar with, and I think it's important that we continue to keep the conversation alive within clinical supervision as well as at the level of the therapist and client. 

Fanning the Flames

LR: So, just as we encourage clinicians to take care of themselves and to grow and to rest and to seek meaning and a reason for being alive, so too must supervisors continually replenish and rest and grow and seek internal expansion, because if they wither, then the supervisee withers and the client withers. Who are the roots, and who are the leaves in this tree? It's a quite interconnected system.
DC: [chuckles] It is. It's just like our world now, isn't it? I mean I'm suddenly reminded about this teenager from Sweden that's really been striking me about what she's doing. I don't know if you follow the news about Greta Thunberg and how she's doing this protest about climate change and rallying a million teens around the world to protest about how the adults in this world had better take this seriously. And she's been going on global forums just speaking about this.

And I heard one of her speeches which she starts by saying, “Our house is on fire. What would you do if your house was on fire?” And she expands on that. And I think that's so important, that somebody her age is speaking about this. 
LR: So, supervisees must find ways to, in your words, reignite supervision. I have one last question. You were born in Singapore, you live and practice in Australia, and you've traveled the world doing training in therapy and supervision. What have you noticed about teaching and supervising cross-culturally?
DC:
I think the first thing that comes to my mind is how similar across culture we are in terms of helping people
I think the first thing that comes to my mind is how similar across culture we are in terms of helping people, trainings and our roles as therapists and supervisors. But, of course, each culture has its own subcultures that you're dealing with. But to me, really what's striking is how much similarity there is. We're all in the same boat.
LR: What do you mean, the same boat, Daryl?
DC: We're all struggling to get better. We all want to. I mean all therapists and all supervisors want to do a better job. And that propels us. That makes us stay hopeful. It makes us invest time, money and effort to go and do CPE [continuing professional development] activities. You know, we're all trying to get better. But what's implicitly underneath that wish to get better is worry. We do worry about, “Am I getting any better? Is what I'm doing really helping to translate?”

And people are asking this question as they are looking deep, long, and hard. And I think the onus is on us as a collective, as a field, to start to come together, to start to build this brick-by-brick, to help out from the therapist's level and the supervisor's level, and to help us build this house, build it up again, and to help us to get just that 1-2% better each step of the way. Because the payoff and the morale that comes with that is going to move us even further. 
LR: So, if everyone in that multilevel relationship strives to be a little bit better, then the whole system becomes better.
DC: That's right.
LR: If client outcome improves, then that goodwill is shared beyond the therapeutic space. If the supervisor is dedicated to practicing their craft, then they are in a better position to teach clinicians. And if clinicians practice deliberately, they are in a better position to help their client. And that is consistent across cultures.
DC: That's right. And, you know, I'm not the only one who is doing this, but I think I've started doing this whole thing about clinical supervision because I think we are a critical piece to the puzzle. And I think this one little story might help to illuminate this. You know, this gentleman, he knocks on his son's door, and he says, “Jamie, wake up, please. Wake up. You've got to get to school.”

Jamie then says, “I'm not going.” And the father says, “Why not?” He says, “Well, Dad, there are three reasons. First, school is so dull. And second, the kids tease me. And third, I hate school anyway.” And the father says, “Well, I'm going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it's your duty. And second, because you're 41 years old. And third, because you are the headmaster.”
LR: [laughs]
DC: I think we play that critical role. We do need to show up. And when we show up, we then need to think about what's our status quo and what's the one thing we need to start in order to refine our work to bring us alive again.
LR: To play that instrument a little better, to hit that tennis ball a little straighter, to run a little bit more efficiently. The supervisor must have a commitment to continued growth and development if the supervisee and the client are to improve.
DC: Yes, and I will say one last thing, if I may, Lawrence.
LR: Of course.
DC: If we use the musician analogy, I don't think it's to play the instrument a bit better.
LR: No?
DC: I think it's to play the instrument well enough but to be able to become better songwriters. I think that's a tougher job, because you can get technically better as a musician, but to write the next Hard Day's Night or Yesterday or Bohemian Rhapsody, I think that's a different skill. And I think we need to find a way to become better songwriters in our field.
LR: So, we can make better music together and because the audience is indeed listening.
DC: That's it.
LR: I think on that note, Daryl, I'm going to say goodbye, and on behalf of our readers, thank you so very much.
DC: Thank you.


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*Not approved for CE by Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)

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Daryl Chow Daryl Chow, MA, PhD (Psych) is a practicing psychologist and trainer. He is a senior associate of the International Center for Clinical Excellence (ICCE). He devotes his time to workshops, consultations and researches the development of expertise and highly effective psychotherapists, helping practitioners to achieve better results. Daryl is the author of The First Kiss: Undoing the Intake Model and Igniting First Sessions in Psychotherapy. His work has also appeared in edited books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and he is a co-editor of The Write to Recovery: Personal Stories & Lessons about Recovery from Mental Health Concerns. Daryl’s blog, Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development is aimed at inspiring and sustaining practitioners’ individualized professional development. His highly personalized in-depth online course for supervisors, Reigniting Clinical Supervision, serves as a leading light to help raise the bar of effectiveness in psychotherapy. Currently, Daryl maintains a private practice with a vibrant team at Henry Street Centre, Fremantle, and continues to serve as a senior psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore.
 
Lawrence Rubin Lawrence Rubin, PhD is a Florida-based psychologist and mental health counselor who is on the clinical faculties of St. Thomas University and the University of Massachusetts-Boston. He specializes in the assessment and treatment of children, teens and their families. He is also the editor at Psychotherapy.net

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • explain the core components of effective clinical supervisio
  • describe the role of deliberate practice in supervision
  • compare supervision for performance and development

Articles are not approved by Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for CE. See complete list of CE approvals here