Trauma informed organizations value safe, trusting and respectful relationships not only between staff and their clients but also between staff and their supervisors. Supportive relationships between staff and supervisors allows staff the opportunity to reflect upon and cope with the stresses and demands of their work.
Supervision is not only a program requirement and a means for ensuring staff accountability. It also involves the opportunity to nurture and coach staff to further their knowledge and improve their skill while also maintaining a healthy perspective on the work hazards that contribute to secondary trauma and burnout.
Reflective supervision is an opportunity for leadership to actively listen and provide thoughtful questions that allow staff to reflect upon what the experiences they encounter at work really mean. This examination of thoughts and feelings encourages greater self-awareness, increases knowledge, improves skills, and reinforces professional boundaries and self-care.
When the focus of supervision is primarily about productivity and performance standards, employees may feel insecure and unwilling to engage in open and honest dialogue that could lead to meaningful growth. For reflective supervision to be effective, supervisors have a responsibility to create a safe environment which encourages staff to take risks in exploring both their strengths and weaknesses. A commitment to regular meetings that are free from distraction and adherence to the highest standards of confidentiality is a must.
In Reflective Supervision, supervisors and staff share responsibility for the learning and growth that comes because of the supervisory relationship. Shared responsibility encourages both parties to schedule and preserve a regular meeting time as well as show up prepared and willing to contribute and learn. The supervisory relationship has the potential to make a lasting and positive impact on the individual and the children and families they serve.