Registered Play Therapist Supervisors
Mentor? Teacher? Therapist? How do you determine your role(s) in the supervisory relationship? Existing models of supervision suggest supervisors should flex between consultant, teacher, and counselor as needed by the supervisee.
Play Therapist Supervisor as Consultant
In this role, the supervisor processes and conceptualizes cases with play therapy supervisees from a child and/or play perspective. Case conceptualization often includes family/relational work, play therapy specific treatment planning and documentation, and progress and assessment.
Supervisors in this role often provides supervisees with play therapy techniques and interventions in response to the question, “What do I do?” However, be careful not overutilize a doing response to supervision. This may increase supervisee anxiety, reduce autonomy, and encourage the supervisee to focus on the problem, not the child.
As the supervisee gains more knowledge and experience, supervisors naturally engage in the consultant role more frequently. As a result, this often leads to serving as a sounding board for clinical cases.
Play Therapist Supervisor as Teacher
In this role, the supervisor provides some what structured information regarding play therapy theory, special populations (e.g. attachment theory, trauma treatment,…), ethical guidelines, etc.
In addition to theory and clinical information, the supervisor also engages the play therapy supervisee in conversations regarding play themes, documentation, and basic and advanced play therapy skills through the use of case studies, session review, or role-plays.
The teaching role is most prominent in early phases of play therapy supervision as supervisees gain theoretical understanding and begin developing basic play therapy skills.
Are you equipped to teach play therapy theory and skills? If not, identify your weak areas and consider how you may broaden your knowledge by attending APT-Approved workshops and consultation with other supervisors and educators.
For many play therapy supervisors, this means stepping outside of their preferred theoretical orientation and learning about others.
Play Therapist Supervisor as Therapist
In this role, supervisors support the emotional growth and well-being of their supervisees. While supervisees are not supervisors’ direct clients, supervisors hold an ethical duty to protect clients and the community served by supervisees. Often acting as a gatekeeper when necessary.
Functions of the therapist in this role include but are not limited to: identifying countertransference issues, challenging interpersonal limitations, integrating the self of the therapist, exploring passion and purpose, and encouraging and role-modeling self-care.
Above all, supervisors must remain mindful of the ways in which power, position, and culture may impact this supervisory role.
Balancing these roles is challenging a times. In a future post, we’ll explore supervisor self-care.