There is often discussion among counsellors on social media on whether online counselling can work. This discussion includes online counselling supervision. Often the question asked by my counselling peers is ‘how can clinical supervision work without the face to face contact?’ There are divided opinions in answering this question.
A couple of months ago, onlinevents (an online counselling CPD organisation) asked via twitter if counsellors could share their experience of supervision. I offered to share my experience of having my own supervision online. Here is my aticle….
My experience of online counselling supervision
A couple of years ago I choose to find a new supervisor. I had just qualified in delivering online counselling so I wanted a supervisor who could support my face to face practice but also understand the differences in online work. Throughout my time with this supervisor, I have tried my sessions using email and live chat via Skype. How has this experience been?
Online supervision has its advantages
The main advantage of finding an online supervisor is that I was not restricted to location. When you are in private practice, travel time can cost in time and money. This in turn limited me to the number of supervisors I could choose from. Choosing an online supervisor meant I had a wider selection of supervisors and I could look for someone who’s supervision model matched my preferred way of working. Added bonuses are that I have cut down on my travel costs, my supervision is carried out in the comfort of own home and I can have my sessions outside of my normal working hours.
I was able to find a supervisor that matched my personality and learning style. This meant even though we were talking remotely we were able to establish a working relationship quickly. As I was sat at my desk rather than a chair, I found that I was making more notes during the session and as I did not have to physically leave the room, I could reflect instantly after the session. I therefore found I was monitoring and evaluating my practice more in-depth and analysing my practice and self-awareness more often. Looking back over the last couple of years, I feel my self-awareness and reflexivity has grown and I have learnt to rely more on my internal supervisor.
Even though the supervisor was not in the room, I felt it did not create any barriers and I constantly felt supported, challenged and mentored.
Working with the pitfalls
Of course, there are a couple of disadvantage to having online counselling supervision. You become reliant on the technology and we did have a couple of sessions where we were cut off or had interference of noise. However, we had an agreement of what we would do if this did occur. As we were both tolerant to this and relaxed, it never became a major problem of either of us. The other disadvantage is your local network becomes restricted so I have had to ensure I have kept up with my local network activities.
Hazel Hill is a private Accredited Counsellor practicing in Sheffield and online. She offers online counselling supervision and at her Sheffield Practice.