Philosophy of Supervision for Hypnotherapists

It is recommended in fields such as counseling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy that novice and experienced therapists participate in what is known as supervision.

The primary motivation behind the supervision of hypnotherapists is to ensure those being supervised are adhering to professional standards set by governing bodies, as well as providing an opportunity for in-depth professional development so that skills, knowledge and confidence are heightened in the supervisee, thus translating into better outcomes for their clients. So for the novice hypnotherapist you can see how invaluable the supervision process is!

For the more experienced therapists, supervision with peers can keep them from becoming too overwhelmed with information and their own practices. When they are free of such pressure they will become better focused on their own professional direction as they are kept in touch with clinical practices, whilst at the same time participating in a stimulating environment which allows them to share and gain knowledge at their own level – helping the experienced therapist to feel rejuvenated in their career again.

When considering the environment where supervised sessions take place there must be special attention paid to creating an atmosphere of openness which promotes comfort in the supervisee so that any issue they bring up can be discussed in a professional manner without fear of ridicule, embarrassment and judgment. This is usually accomplished by keeping those being supervised to a minimum – either by offering tailored one-to-one interaction, or in a small group setting consisting of no more than four or five people.

Such an environment is an absolute must, especially when you consider hypnotherapists come from all demographics within society, meaning they will have their own belief patterns and perceptions, not only in life but also in how they perform hypnosis on a client. To explain this further, some hypnotherapists (due to training and/or their beliefs about therapeutic care) may adopt a clinical approach to hypnosis and will have a broad range of applications, whereas others may incorporate a more spiritual aspect in their practices; some hypnotherapists may also choose to practice exclusively within a specific area – such as weight loss or stop smoking.

So when working with a varied group of hypnotherapists (or even one-to-one) there needs to be a mutual understanding and agreement between all parties involved. The supervision contract is the initial step in this, and is where both short term and long term goals are clearly defined and agreed upon by both the supervisor and the supervisee. This contract should accurately reflect an agreed time frame to reach such goals, learning styles that will be employed, commitment from both parties and boundaries. There should also be some flexibility allowed in the contract to review the progress of the aims and objectives, and re-evaluate requirements of the supervisee periodically.

The supervision of hypnotherapists provides an amazing opportunity for growth within the supervisee, but equally it provides a platform on which the supervisor can showcase their skills and experience as they facilitate a process which is similar in essence to “The Scaffolding Theory” based on the Social Development Theory of Learning by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky.

"In this case the ‘scaffolding’ acts as a metaphor to describe the support and assistance of those being supervised as they actively engage in something that goes beyond their independent efforts. The ‘scaffold’ is but a temporary framework which is “put up” to support the supervisee as the knowledge that they already have is brought out in such a way that encourages a broadening of their understanding. When the ‘scaffold’ framework is no longer needed it can be removed, or replaced by another framework, during the supervision process."

The artful supervisor, whilst being solution focused, will need to be inspiring and motivating to those being supervised – observing with an astute eye the needs of the supervisee. This is where group management skills are highly prized; the ability to manage a group (no matter how small) of people helps to create an environment that promotes an equal sharing of valuable experience, knowledge and resources.

Remember, it is not enough to merely discuss issues raised by supervisees; a supervisor must be able to facilitate productive interaction by having a repertoire of inquiry techniques. This can be done by reframing presented information so that unique personal experiences can be valued added, by brainstorming and verbalising thinking processes, and by breaking up information into manageable parts so that the supervisee will be better able to see the logical steps in sequential order, helping them to understand what they are being told or shown in a more thorough way.

In conclusion the supervision process is a valuable opportunity for both supervisor and supervisee, where an exchange of information, experience and unique insight helps to promote personal and professional growth in all those involved. For the supervisee they leave with a treasure-trove of new experiences and knowledge which will allow them to develop and incorporate positive processes and methods in their career and general life, and for the supervisor the end result of any supervision sessions becomes a realistic reflection of their own skills and experience – rewarding them with a sense of satisfaction for a “job well done”, whilst at the same time highlighting any room for improvement.