Improving Support in the Workplace

Have you considered what offers you support in your work to enable you to be creative and to perform to the best of your potential? It may be the walk to work, friends and colleagues, sharing at work through meetings or your reading material. What kind of support does this offer? Is it strong or tenuous? Is it foundational or ungrounded? You might then ask yourself. Is it sufficient or is something missing and if so how could you go about getting such support? What stops you from seeking such support?

Thinking over the appropriate support you may have in place you might want to consider how you can enhance and consolidate it. Putting the right support in place can act as a preventative measure to stress. One of the support systems for people in the workplace is that of supervision.

What is Supervision?

Supervision has long been a standard requirement for any practitioner in health and social services as well as charitable organisations and in many of the professions. Supervision could be described as time out from doing the job in order to reflect on the doing. It allows a breathing space; a different relationship between the two people meeting in this context different from other work relationships. It offers a supportive space for looking at issues and concerns which are important for the individual and for the organization both personally and professionally.

Supervision is perhaps a rather unfortunate term as it may evoke feelings of judgement and the threat of being undermined or told what one ought to be doing. The supervisory relationship is not a top-down model where the power of imbalance predominates. It is a relationship of mutual respect. Perhaps reflective practice could be a more apt description. A supportive space, either individually or in a group, where individuals can have a breathing space to think about and discuss their own responses to the challenges and dilemmas, as well as what goes well or is encouraging, that they encounter in their work.

Over the years the benefits and value of supervision have been borne out. One such benefit is the lowering of stress which allows the person to think; high levels of anxiety block the thinking capacity. Understanding evolves through this process of reflecting together. The development of new insights, fresh ideas, as well as personal growth is enabled, always for the benefit of both the individual and the organisation.

A further benefit is that team building can be supported. Problems can be seen in the wider context of the whole organisation. Through the thinking together practice can be enhanced and monitored and communication improved. Supervision either individually or with colleagues in groups opens up new perspectives on your work.

Evaluating your support/supervision

Hawkins & Shohet in their book Supervision in the Helping Professions, raise some points which you might want to consider regarding your own evaluation. These might include: identifying practice issues which you need help with.

You might ask yourself the following questions:

And finally...

You may be in and out of sympathy with some of the ideas presented here. You may have areas of concern which have not been raised. Whatever your thoughts the most important step you can take is to keep yourself alive and receptive as to what can enhance your support in the workplace which may include the possibility of supervision. If you do have supervision it needs to be alive and therefore needs to be able to change, evolve and develop with the interests, skills and requirements of those participating in it.

For more information regarding supervision services or psychotherapy, please contact London Psychotherapy.


Hawkins, P & Shohet, R Supervision in the Helping Professions

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