Clinical Supervision For Mental Health Providers

I really enjoy providing clinical supervision services. I have had the great pleasure of supervising graduate students at Syracuse University in the Counseling and Human Services department, school counselors in many school districts in central new york, and psychotherapists from different theoretical backgrounds over the years. Some practitioners that work with me receive on-going clinical supervision and others receive it on an as-needed basis. If you are looking for someone to talk about cases, to help develop new skills, or work through personal issues that may be getting in your way of being as effective as you might be I would be glad to speak to you about my services.

I believe that it is important for any of us doing this work to understand themselves in the process of trying to promote change in their clients. Psychotherapy can be a very intense, powerful, and confusing process. It is vital that a therapist be able to differentiate him or herself from the patient. Therefore, a major theme in my clinical supervision work is to assist therapists in being clear about this distinction. In doing so, I focus the therapist on their own feelings and reactions as it relates to their experience in working with patients. I believe this provides important information in two ways. First, it helps the therapist better understand themselves, their own histories, and the things that may get in the way of them being as effective as they might be. Secondly, the reactions and feelings that a therapist may feel in working with a particular patient can be invaluable in better understanding the patient and their psychological and emotional makeup. I believe both of these areas of focus makes therapists more sophisticated in their thinking and doing and creates more opportunity for patient growth and change.

My supervision abilities have been influenced by many people in my life, but the three most significant people have been Dr. Rene Wilett, John A. Carnevale, CSW-R., and Dr. Janine Bernard.

Dr. Rene Wilet first hired me in 1987 and I had the good fortune of receiving six years of clinical supervision from him. While he taught me many things, the most significant thing I received from him was his encouragement and support. As a beginning therapist, his belief and confidence in me were very important to my professional development. It helped me believe in myself and my abilities which created a foundation for my career. I will always appreciate his efforts and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity he gave me.

Dr. Janine Bernard has provided me with a structure to understand the content and process of supervision. Her knowledge of clinical supervision has helped shape some of my ideas about what constitutes effective supervision. Her Discrimination Model of Supervision helped put into words many of the experiences that I have known over the years. Her model suggests that a practitioner's concerns for supervision can be described as reflecting one of three specific areas; a practitioner's intervention skills (what a practitioner is actually doing in session), a practitioner's conceptualization skills (how a practitioner understands what is going on in the session and also within their patient), and a practitioner's personalization skills (how a practitioner works in therapy without allowing personal issues and/or countertransference issues from impacting the therapy process). She goes on to suggest that a supervisor needs to be able to adopt different roles in supervision in order for supervision to be effective. Consequently, there may be times that a supervisor takes on a teaching role, other times they may take on a counseling role, or, at other times, they may take on a consultant role within the supervision session. There may also be times that all these roles are utilized within a single supervision session depending on the individual needs of the practitioner. These different areas of foci that a practitioner brings to supervision and the different roles a supervisor utilizes in supervision allow for flexibility and discrimination in the supervision process.

This model of supervision is atheoretical in nature and therefore is easily adapted to different theoretical orientations. While I am able to conduct supervision from different theoretical orientations, my particular theoretical orientation for supervision mirrors my theoretical orientation for psychotherapy. This means that my theoretical bias in clinical supervision would be to look at humanistic, family systems, cognitive-behavioral, and psychoanalytic/psychodynamic explanations for a patient's concerns.

My greatest influence both as a psychotherapist and a clinical supervisor came from John A. Carnevale, CSW-R. I had the immense great fortune of being supervised by John for twelve years. It is impossible to write all that he taught me over this time before he died from a long battle with cancer in 2006. Most importantly he taught me to maintain my intellectual curiosity and courage to delve into the human soul and condition. He introduced me to some of the masters of psychotherapeutic thought. He shared his love and interest in psychoanalytically informed psychotherapy and the analysis of character styles and personality dynamics. He encouraged me to try to understand people in depth and not give in to reductionistic and simplistic understandings of human suffering. He encouraged me to provide people with an environment where they could be honest in examining themselves, their lives, and their futures. My hope would be, that if you spend time with me in clinical supervision, that you will get a sense of John from our work together.