Training professional massage therapists with sensitivity, creativity and integrity



What is supervision?

Sue Attrill, experienced supervisor and supervisee, explains what happens in a supervision session, the value of it and benefits it can bring to your massage practice.

By Sue Attrill, Wales regional team

One person's observation of their own supervision was that there were two learners in the room, and one learner was facilitating the other’s learning process.

My experience is that it can help every individual, however long you have been practising, to get the support and space to develop, which will enhance your experience of being a massage practitioner.

Supervision is not always set in stone. When I have a supervisee, I like to talk to them first and see what their needs are. Some individual or group supervision may be discussion only, or it may include discussion and massage. Supervision is about getting your needs met, it is about support for your process, so choose a group that has the elements you need to develop as a therapist.

You don’t all need to be massage therapists either. My first group supervision was with Kate Williams in London. She was a massage practitioner, healer, and counsellor, and there were six of us, in the group two from MTI. We had a counsellor, an osteopath, a coach: this showed me that a mixed group can benefit the individual. With a good supervisor, you don't need to get stuck on all coming from the same discipline. My current supervisor is a counsellor with knowledge of bodywork.

Michael Carroll has written a book on Effective Supervision in the therapeutic professions. He asked several supervisees to complete the sentence: "for me supervision is...’ and the responses include:

  • a torch that illuminates my work;
  • a container where I feel safe and held;
  • a mirror where I see myself and my work (the mirror is usually held by my supervisor);
  • a playpen where I play with ideas, feelings, intuitions, hunches, theories;
  • a dance where we learn how to work together in harmony;
  • a journey where we both move through stages and need to decide where we are going, what we want to take with us, and what to leave behind;
  • a thermometer to gauge temperatures (intellectual, emotional, psychological and social climates);
  • a sculpture where I am being fashioned into something yet to be.

MTI is committed to providing and encouraging all its members to partake in some kind of supervision and reflective practise. I am at the moment working with MTI Chair Earle Abrahamson and South West regional rep Sharon Bull to roll out supervision within the regions, so watch this space.

Sue has been a massage therapist for 28 years, is also a qualified psychotherapy counsellor and a Vodder trained M.L.D. therapist (manual lymph drainage level 3). She has both attended and run supervision groups throughout her career.

Comments: 2 (Add)

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MTIAdmin on July 4 2018 at 16:24

Thanks Vicky, so great to hear your experience and that you are offering supervision too :)

Vicky Gaughan on July 3 2018 at 17:16

Like Sue I am also a psychotherapist. In this profession supervision is mandatory. It’s many years ago when I ran the first workshop in MTI to help our trainers get a handle on why it’s so important to have someone to go to and share triumphs and challenges. ‘Two heads are better than one’ is the bottom line.

So often I hear my students and supervisees mention that massage work can be lonely at times. If you are a member of MTI it doesn’t have to be. I’m delighted to see the recent encouragement for our members to seek supervision. It should be an enriching and insightful process and also worthwhile and enjoyable. Like Sue, I see two learners in the room. We both grow; the supervisee and the supervisor. It’s ok to enlist the help of another skilled and experienced practitioner; someone who might have been in the field longer than you. I’ve been having supervision for my work for 30 years. It’s saved me, supported me, developed me and much more. It is with my experience of how invaluable my supervision has been that helps me to offer it to others. I offer both group and individual supervision in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

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