Across many disciplines, clinical supervision is where theory and skills from the classroom meet the complexities and challenges of the real world. To serve as a clinical supervisor requires specialized skills in guiding and developing a professional’s ethical and competent practice – skills that are qualitatively different from those of an advanced practitioner.
As a clinical supervision researcher for many years, I have worked with – and learned from – colleagues not only in mental health fields, but also those in genetic counseling, sports psychology, and teacher education. I also regularly read supervision publications in nursing, speech-pathology, and other disciplines. The similarities and differences across fields – as well as the differences within a discipline in various areas of the world – fascinate me. In some fields (e.g., genetic counseling), live in-vivo supervision is the norm; in some countries (e.g., the UK), research is focused on practitioners rather than students; the supervisory relationship – though defined differently – is considered pivotal across them all. Such cross-disciplinary perspectives certainly have broadened and deepened my thinking about my own work as a supervision practitioner, educator, and researcher – challenging me to consider new research questions and methodologies, different training approaches, and more complex intersections of supervision practice (e.g., trauma-informed supervision).
Given this multi-disciplinary backdrop, I have often found that supervision writings – those I read as a journal editor, reviewer, and mentor of emerging supervision researchers -similarly could be better informed by reading the ‘parallel literature’ in other fields. Although I made such suggestions to individual authors, I also wondered how to encourage this broader reading at a more substantive level – to achieve a real, visible impact on supervision research…to inform supervision practice to better support practitioners’ effectiveness with clients.
When I mentioned this idea at professional conferences, I typically heard agreement and enthusiasm – and a ‘let us know when this happens’ response. Who, then, I questioned, would step up with a strategy to make this happen? I certainly was ready to contribute time and effort, preferably from my typical behind-the-scenes location. I was ready to actively support someone who had the creativity and know-how to make it happen. But no leader came forward. Increasingly, I felt pressed to take the leap myself.
When I first heard about the SOE’s Impact through Innovation initiative, I was certainly intrigued. When I heard Scott Young wonder how to adapt the Kickbox idea for faculty, I offered to be his pilot study. “If you can help me be innovative, you can help anyone,” I told him. (He knows me well, so I’m pretty sure he agreed!)
One step of the ‘pilot’ involved presenting my idea at an ITI incubator meeting. With a good bit of nervousness, I described my goals as well as all the hurdles I saw in my way, especially my lack of technological and social media skills (with no keen interest in learning all of that). My SOE colleagues offered feedback that was instructive, encouraging, and frank. What I most remember is a comment along the lines of, “You don’t have to figure all of it out before you start, DiAnne. [Really?] Just start with what you can do.”
Bolstered by their encouragement and advice, I started enacting my Kickbox-based plan, first reaching out to a colleague in another discipline…who jumped on board before I even asked.
To make the long story short, we launched the Clinical Supervision Research Collaborative (CSRC) in late July 2020 during a supervision conference. Amazingly, participants represented at least 8 disciplines and 14 countries, including every continent except Antarctica. With the financial support of ITI, we were able to introduce CSRC’s professional logo, tagline, and website. Participants’ favorite parts of the launch, by far, were the Zoom breakout rooms where they got to meet, share, and connect – where we started to build the supervision research community I had envisioned.
Based on launch participants’ input, plans for two CSRC projects are underway: 1) our first podcasts – interviews with both established and emerging supervision researchers, and 2) peer research consultation groups. Both are made possible with the help of eager and talented volunteers…who also have the requisite technology and social media skills.
During ITI incubator group meetings I attended, I was inspired by SOE faculty members’ passion and determination to make a difference, have an impact, and achieve greater meaning through their developing ideas. I am grateful they recognized that same zeal in me, around the CSRC, and provided the needed prodding to make me make it a reality.