Experiencing Supervision: Surveys and Images

Like the others who have reported below, the Experiencing Supervision working group also had a great meeting in Belfast, and we also want to pass on our thanks to Nicola Carr for being such an excellent host.

Our group spent the first day together, so that the two sub-groups could contribute to and comment on each others work. One group is working on the ‘Eurobarometer’ — seeking to develop a survey instrument about the experience of supervision that can be used in different jurisdictions — both to help explore those experiences within jurisdictions and to compare results across jurisdictions. The project is led by Ioan Durnescu at the University of Bucharest, though the leaders on this meeting were Jelena Djoric and Gabriel Oancea. Prior to the meeting colleagues in Croatia, Italy and Romania had piloted tested the first version of the instrument and so they were able to update us on the strengths and weaknesses of the tool. We spent some time together working through it, seeking to improve items, and struggling with some tough issues, especially whether to not to try to develop the instrument for use across all forms of supervision, or to limit it to one or two. For the moment, we are sticking with the more ambitious route (of trying to cover all forms of supervision), but are trying to organise the instrument in modules or pathways, so that it doesn’t ask irrelevant questions of respondents. On the second day, the subgroup met in order to develop plans to test version two of the survey in a larger number of countries — probably adding Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Serbia, England and Wales and the Netherlands to the existing three.


Our second group is working on the ‘Supervisible’ project. This is a ‘photovoice’ research project — seeking to collect and analyse images taken by supervises to represent their experiences of supervision; but it is also about directly addressing supervision’s invisibility in cultural terms. We hope to be able to curate an exhibition of the images at our final conference in Brussels on 10-11 March 2016. The project is led by Wendy Fitzgibbon at London Metropolitan University. Wendy was pleased to report that we have secured a small award from the Howard League for Penal Reform (in England and Wales) to cover the costs of a pilot in the UK (with me and Marguerite Schinkel handling the Scottish part of that). Both in England and in Scotland, ethical approval has been secured, and some complex access issues (in England) are being addressed. We are just about ready to start work with people with current or previous experience of supervision — and also with an art therapist (in England) and an artist (in Scotland). Progress had been more difficult to make in Germany, but colleagues from there and in Austria, England and Wales and Malta were able to make plans to try to extend the pilot to their countries.

We also had a lot of fun — and learned a lot (!) — by testing the process on ourselves. Basically, on the first day, we gave members of the working group about 45 minutes to go out and take one or two photos that represented the experience of supervision as they understand it. The image above is one of the photos that resulted. On the second day, the subgroup analysed the images we had taken before presenting them to the whole Action at the end of the meeting. We’d love to share more of them (and our analysis), but we don’t want to risk influencing the sorts of images that others who become involved in the project may take. Indeed, we found the whole process so fascinating that we are considering setting up a page on this blog and initiating a process via Twitter where anyone can post a picture and a caption, so that we can perhaps compare how people with different perspectives on supervision (practitioners, supervisees, judges, members of the general public, etc.) seek to represent it. So watch this space!

Overall, we had an excellent meeting, and left full of energy and ideas for the next stage of our work.


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