FAQs about Supervision

      

When will I start receiving supervision?
How is supervision different from (a) line management, (b) coaching, (c) spiritual direction, (d) counselling?
Who will be trained as a supervisor and when?
What does the training involve? 
Who will supervise me and who decides?

How will I fit supervision in with everything else?
What is the relationship between supervision and safeguarding?
Is supervision confidential?
Can we use group supervision?
Can I be part of the training team? 
Can I train as a professional supervisor?

                          

When will I start receiving supervision?

This depends on which group your district is in.  There are four groups beginning with Group A and ending with Group D.  In each case supervisors will be trained according to the schedule (link to training timeline); six months will elapse between the completion of that training and supervision being offered to colleagues to allow the supervisor a chance to embed the learning through their own supervision.

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How is supervision different from (a) line management, (b) coaching, (c) spiritual direction, (d) counselling?

It should be noted that although technical distinctions can be made, in practice, there is often considerable overlap.  The most important thing is that both parties are clear what is expected.  Definitions of supervision for Methodist Church purposes are provided in the Interim Policy.

(a) Supervision and line management:  supervision is primarily exploratory and reflective; it is governed by an agreement (Covenant) between the supervisor and the supervisee and is recorded on an Agreed Record Form.  Unlike line management it does not involve task management and the responsibility for the work remains with the supervisee.  If it becomes clear in supervision that action needs to be taken regarding a minister in by their minister in oversight (who may or may not be the supervisor) this needs to be recorded on the Agreed Record Form (link) so that action can be taken outside the supervision session.  If supervision is being offered to a lay employee with significant pastoral responsibilities this could be offered either by the line manager or by a separate supervisor.  Line managers will need to refrain from over directing employees during supervision and there may be benefit to supervision happening 'offline' where the supervisee may be freer to explore more widely before bringing options for action to a line manager.

(b) Supervision and coaching:coaching is usually governed by an agreement between the coach and the practitioner.  It can govern any aspect of life or work by mutual agreement and is primarily focused on the development of the practitioner in some area..  The accountability is usually purely between the two people concerned.  Supervision involves attention to practitioner development (the formative dimension) but also to the ethics of practice within the organisation (the normative dimension) for the sake of those ministered amongst, and to the wellbeing of the practitioner (the formative dimension).  The accountability within supervision is not only mutual, it is to the wider Church.  For this reason the records are accessible to other processes and ministers in oversight may request that particular issues are taken to supervision.

(c) Supervision and spiritual direction:spiritual direction focuses on the living of life in the light of God's call to discipleship.  For those in ministry this will include the living out of a vocation to ordination or lay work but will also include other relationships and commitments.  Whilst supervision includes spiritual and theological perspectives, it focuses upon the wellbeing and spiritual health of the person as this concerns their practice.  Practice is always the focus of supervision, even if the questions raised are theological or spiritual. 

(d) Supervision and counselling:counselling is focused upon the mental health of the client.  Supervision may identify areas of work which are having an impact on the supervisee's mental health or areas of mental health that are having an impact on the supervisee's work.  It is the role of supervision to explore these impacts but not to work specifically on any mental health concerns raised.  Referral to counselling may sometimes be an outcome of supervision.

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Who will be trained as a supervisor and when?

Each district is completing a Supervision Implementation Plan.  The district officers concerned will nominate sufficient supervisors to cover the needs of their district and you will be consulted about this by your District Chair.  The dates for supervision training will be governed by the Training Schedule.  If you cannot make the dates for your region you may need to travel to another region to receive your training.

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What does the training involve?

The training takes place over 4 days in 2 x 2 day blocks a month apart.  You will normally be asked to travel in each day unless there are particular reasons making this difficult.  The training involves an intensive introduction to the skills of supervision and to enough supervision theory to support those skills.  Much of the training time is spent in triads in which you will practise being a supervisee, supervising and identifying the features of supervision practice.  Supervision relies on transferable skills, many of which are generic to ministry.  These will be refined and developed during the programme.

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Who will supervise me and who decides?

District officers will decide the basic pattern that your district will use.  Either the usual pattern will be that Superintendents, where possible, supervise their own colleagues (Pattern A) or that a selection of District ministers and lay people with the right skills and experience will be asked to supervise a number of people from outside of their own circuit (Pattern B).  If there are good reasons why it would not be appropriate for you to be supervised by a particularly individual (e.g. family relationship; personality clash) you should request that be taken into account.  If this is difficult to raise with your own minister in oversight, please speak to the District Chair or to the Connexional Director of Supervision (link to email address).

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How will I fit supervision in with everything else?

Ministry is the kind of life in which there is always more that could be done than time allows.  It is recognised that supervision involves a major commitment both as a supervisee and as a supervisor.  The pilot project has identified benefits from both perspectives however as ministers have found supervision an effective way to reflect, to communicate with colleagues and to become more intentional about their priorities and use of time.  Prioritisation should be a regular topic within supervision.  Good time management involves reflective conversation about what to choose to neglect.  Sharing this decision with a supervisor can help to reduce guilt about those things left undone.

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What is the relationship between supervision and safeguarding?

Supervision is being introduced into the Methodist Church as a way to support a change of culture from isolated practice to more accountable, transparent and supported practice.  It is expected that issues of safeguarding and other risks will be explicitly discussed in supervision as a regular part of the work and it is hoped that supervision will help ministers spot patterns of behaviour in others that are a cause for concern so that early interventions can be made.  Supervision will not on its own prevent any individuals in ministry intent on harming others from doing so.  However, it is hoped that supervision will help everyone to reflect on the impacts of their own patterns of working and take steps to work more safely, e.g. in taking appropriate time off, in observing the code of conduct, in sharing difficult decisions.

Supervisors should always remember that any supervisee may themselves be a survivor of abuse.  For those ministers it is particularly important that basic protocols and appropriate boundaries are observed e.g. allowing the supervisee to help shape the supervision space; being clear about the limits and obligations of confidentiality; supporting the emotional welfare of the supervisee if a particular incident or situation is having a significant impact upon them; making referrals for further support if a need is identified.

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Is supervision confidential?

Supervision is not completely confidential because it is not only for the support of the practitioner, but for the wellbeing of those amongst whom the practitioner works.  The Agreed Record asks for certain things to be recorded: a list of topics so that any minister in oversight/designated third party can tell whether ministry is being discussed in the round during the course of a year; specific actions relating to safeguarding, competence, discipline or other formal actions need to be recorded in order to be legitimately acted upon outside the supervision space.  Anything not recorded on the form is confidential to the supervisor and the supervisee.

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Can we use group supervision?

Group supervision has not been recommended for use during 2017-20.  During the pilot group supervision was tried but was not found to be an effective means of supervision at this stage.  The skill set for effective group supervision is considered a higher skill set than that for individual supervision and so any group supervisions that take place will be considered informal and not part of the accountability required by the Conference.  Ministers are encouraged to use skills of supervision across their work, including for encouraging reflection and colleagueship in staff meetings.  The future uses of group supervision will be reviewed for report to the 2020 Conference.

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Can I be part of the training team? 

Anyone with professional supervision training/supervisory experience or with cognate skills and experience is welcome to apply to be part of the training team.  Please contact the Connexional Director of Supervision.

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Can I train as a professional supervisor?

A small budget has been set aside for each of the next three years to build the Methodist Church's capacity to deliver supervision and supervision training at a professional standard.  If you are interested to engage in such training please contact the Connexional Director of Supervision.

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