Finding someone to guide your growth as a practitioner is a task that requires effort and self-awareness. Below are 5 useful tips I picked up along the way they may have assisted that journey.
1. Know what you want
Have a clear picture or definition of what a suitable supervisor looks like for you. Do spend time really thinking about what you want from a supervisor and what guidance you expect to receive. Do you have a contact and a team you want to work with and a plan in place, therefore maybe you just want a reflective supervisor to run ideas by? Maybe you don’t know what you want to do and seek someone who has a lot of connections in order to test a lot of different types of organisations or sports. Regardless consider the amount of money you are going to commit to pay over a period of years.
2. Set expectations
You should have an open discussion with the potential supervisor you want outlining what you would like and understand what they are willing to give. Ask what is your money paying for exactly; can you contact the person outside of your meetings? The British Psychological Society suggests 2 hours of contact every 3 months. In my opinion that is way too little and would ring alarm bells if the supervisor could only commit to that amount of time. 2 hours for 3 months to discuss a case study, to discuss your practice, to discuss your development is not enough time to effectively do so. It may not be that they don’t want to, they may simply have very, very limited time to commit. Speaking with other Trainees a monthly meeting is the norm in order to assess progression effectively.
3. Assess their schedule (within reason!)
It will come as no shock to you to learn that psychologists have a hectic schedule to say the least. This point refers to making an educated assessment of whether the time you need to develop is the time the psychologist is willing to give, or even has available. This is why the above two points are so important, knowing what will help you become the practitioner you want to be will make things much easier long-term.
Some sample questions are; how many supervisees do they have, is it a group or one-to-one session, do they have a private practice alongside a full-time job, are they undergoing further training.. and so on. Within this profession often psychologists have a collection of roles but it's important to assess whether they genuinely have time for you. If you still chose this supervisor be prepared this may lead to an awkward or difficult conversation down the line as you have signed a contract and will be paying them.
4. One-to-one or group sessions
Decide what will suit your learning. I have experienced both during my training and it all depends on the group you have. There are obvious pros and cons to both, undivided and specific attention to your progress vs. learning from more advanced practitioners in a group setting with less focus on specifics related to you. Again within a group it all depends on the type of support you require and the participants involved.
5. Match made in heaven..
What do you want from the professional relationship? Remember you will be going to this person for advice, going to them when times are tough, they will become the foundation of your support system, someone that you will learn from. If they are not someone you aspire to be like will it be beneficial to model your behaviour on theirs? As such you will need to trust them and your goals and values may need to align.
Being a Trainee involves a steep learning curve, you will feel exposed, you will make more mistakes here than anywhere else during your career (I hope). The above is my advice based on my own experiences finding a supervisor. Don’t worry though you are more likely to have a positive experience than negative but why not be a little more informed when beginning these conversations.