Melhim Restum, PhD
As healthcare professionals, we are intimately familiar with this model of education. How much did your skills as a clinician develop when you began ongoing supervision of your cases? In contrast, imagine how difficult (impossible?) it would have been if you tried to learn how to evaluate and treat people by relying solely on knowledge you had acquired from books, classes and your own life experiences. How skillful would you be today?
Supervisors and mentors have been our most valuable and valued learning resource throughout history. The supervision/apprenticeship model has been used in virtually every profession including art, science, medicine, psychology and sports.
The essential elements of this model of learning include ongoing, regular contact with a supervisor; ability to contact the supervisor when difficult situations emerge; trust in the supervisor’s track record; the ability of the supervisor to communicate to you what you need to understand and HOW to implement that understanding into meaningful and effective action.
Another value of supervision is that it helps you get over the fears and doubts about doing something new. In fact, a less understood power of an ongoing, regular supervisory relationship supervision – unlike books, workshop, teleclasses etc. – is that it is the only model of learning that offers a reliable way of dealing with RESISTANCE to learning/change and can uncover UNCONSCIOUS BLINDSPOTS that keeps us from actualizing our skills in the chosen area of learning.
Furthermore, supervision forces accountability and promotes implementation. Without coaching or supervision experts suggest that knowledge, perhaps as much as 95% according to marketing guru Jay Abraham, is quickly lost and hence of little value to the learner and the society he or she is attempting to enhance.
Therefore, the supervision/apprenticeship model of learning is a natural fit for mental health practice building.