Hers, not mine

I saw it coming…. there were signs of a dilemma in the reflection report and as it goes in the case of a dilemma...a decision must be made.

The decision that my supervisee Amy had to make was a big one: do I continue working as a therapist in my present organization or go into private practice?

Amy worked together with her colleague, and fellow therapist, Patricia. Patricia was not well ‘accommodated’ within the organization and was already involved in several conflicts—she was someone who wore her ‘heart on the tongue’ thus she never hesitated to comment on whatever she felt was wrong...in her eyes. Amy had more of a flexible style and aimed toward harmony.

The two colleagues shared one room and that went fine. In our shared reflections and conversations regarding Patricia, Amy’s only criticism was about the on-going conflicts; she felt she was sometimes being pulled into them herself.

As Amy’s supervisor I had a clear view of Patricia and I had my prejudices—this colleague was not good for Amy.

I recognized that they worked well with each other, concerning their clients, but the developing conflicts within their work environment were not suitable for Amy.

For some time in the supervision sessions we worked on this theme: how do I not get involved into business that concerns Patricia and not me?

Amy was clearly stuck in a trap. She liked Patricia but realized she was slowly developing a critical feeling toward the organization. She wanted to cope with this but wasn’t sure how.

In her reflection Amy wrote she wanted to cut her ties in supervision with me. Patricia has suggested they start a private practice together and should both leave the organization. It was a tempting idea—they could develop their own independent working situation.

My preparation on this supervision also left me with a dilemma…I was certain that in suggesting this new proposal Patricia had also exerted more negative influence on Amy.

That was clear to me from all I knew. What to do?

I entered into our session, neutral as required, and suggested that Amy focus on the advantages and disadvantages of this next step. Amy did not succeed in this excersise.

Next, I asked Amy to rate her objectives: how much for job satisfaction (in the old and in the new situation), professional satisfaction (can I make use of my professional qualities? ) and meaning (what can I add to the well-being of my clients?). She did this with enthusiasm and it eventually became clear to her that her first priority was for the job satisfaction she derived from her cooperation with Patricia. In fact, all three objectives were linked to working with Patricia.

And that was exactly where I had my worries….but the choice was made. She left the organization and started a new working alliance with Patricia.

And my dilemma? I didn’t voice my doubts...

This time I have a question for you readers/colleagues. What would you have done? When, as a supervisor, you have concerns with a decision your supervisee chooses to make, what would you do?

It was Amy’s decision. She left with a big smile on her face.

I hope that I am wrong about her future..because it’s hers not mine…

(appreciate reactions: geriandijkhuizen@gmail.com)

Gerian Dijkhuizen is a member of the LVSC in the Netherlands. She is a seniorsupervisor/teacher of supervisors and has her own practice.

This column was first published in ANSE Journal december 2020