Supervisor in the corner

I was wrong….and it was in a supervision session.

It had to do with my state of mind and my physical situation, neither good: a headache, a to-do list that was much too long and a dog, on the other side of the door, giving me a signal that she needed to go outside to do her business .

I saw it right away: the supervisee came in sad. I sighed and thought: this is going to be a difficult session

‘Tell me….’, I started, bravely. You are not doing well’.

‘Why?’. My supervisee was clearly irritated.

This was rather promising ….did I see things wrong?

I hesitated: ‘I thought I saw a lot going on….’. ‘How do you see this?’ The irritation increased in the chair opposite mine.

‘Ah…well…your face…’. Before I could say anymore a verbal storm was headed my way: ‘my face is quite the same as it always is…look at your own face….I think you are the one that is not well today’. Wow…this was an unexpected jab to my gut!

I felt on the verge of tears….

‘Yes, you’re right….I am having a lousy day. I’m sorry….and I was projecting, I’m afraid.’

After this I went to make coffee for us….

What I wrote didn’t really happen…but…what puzzles me sometimes is: how ‘honest’ can one be about oneself as a supervisor? How much disclosure is possible in a particular situation? Should one cancel a session on a day like I’ve described above?

It makes me consider what I would do if I was committed to a session while not feeling well….

I give workshops on a regular basis on the theme: “How to create a safe atmosphere to learn in supervision”

Each time I start with the theory: the process of supervision starts with me, the supervisor.

But it can happen that I don’t know either…I feel…this is not good…here is where I get lost. It is for this confusion that I now order myself ‘into the corner’.

How I get myself out of this state is varied…sometimes a remark is enough, another time aspirin is helpful.

In other words: it always depends on the context, the supervisee opposite me and my reflection in the here-and-now.

It is never perfectly professional in a case like this. And is that a problem? No….as long as my own reflection as a supervisor is present afterwards.

Gerian Dijkhuizen

Januari 2020

Thanks to Trudie Collishaw for the English translation

This column was first published in ANSE Journal 2020