Starting your career as an Occupational Therapist is an exciting but sometimes anxious time for us all and that’s why we believe it’s so important to be supported and encouraged by your supervisor.  As an Occupational Therapist and newly qualified Occupational Therapist (NQOT) in a supervisory relationship, we perceive supervision to be the foundation for a NQOT’s journey, as they transition from student to professional. The supervisory relationship may best be described as an alliance between a senior and more junior member within the team and we have been reflecting on our experiences and the characteristics that we think creates a positive supervisory relationship.

Think about your experience of being supervised whilst completing your practice placements. Did you have a positive relationship with your supervisors?

Being supportive and encouraging confidence

From our experiences, a good supervisor is someone who is supportive and encouraging; a person able to empower the supervisee and build their confidence as a newly qualified professional. The supervisor’s support and confidence has the potential to change the supervisee’s perception of their self-confidence, self-efficacy, cognitive complexity, and commitment for the profession (Royal College of Occupational Therapists RCOT, 2015).

Trust, honesty and respect

The supervisory relationship should be based on trust, honesty and respect. These characteristics promote a professional and healthy relationship between the supervisor and supervisee. Without these assets, there is a potential for a breakdown within the relationship which may have a lasting negative impact on the individuals concerned.

Listening and communication

Being able to communicate openly and listen to one another is a key aspect of a positive relationship, whether communicating face-to-face or remotely. Having positive communication promotes a safe environment in which to express thoughts and concerns honestly and respectfully, enabling us to move forward with a solution that has everyone’s best interests at heart.

Additionally, communication enables a culture of celebration in the workplace. This can be balanced through informal conversations within supervision to create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Organisation

Our preparation for supervision involves a set agenda including clinical cases to discuss, critical reflection and feedback, training and general wellbeing. Being prepared for supervision creates a positive atmosphere, allowing for the most effective use of time and flow within professional discussions. We both feel that our organisational skills have helped to prepare, implement and action tasks from supervision.

Feedback

Reflecting, evaluating and providing feedback on performance at work enables both the supervisor and supervisee to increase their self-awareness and encourage professional development. We believe that constructive feedback, both positive and critical, encourages an open and honest relationship that can facilitate important skill development. Without providing constructive feedback to both the supervisor and supervisee, it limits opportunities to build on learning and skills from open reflective discussions.

Being friendly and approachable

Finally, it is important to have a friendly and approachable manner when working with one another.  We feel that this is key for our wellbeing and outlook when working together, ensuring that both parties have a positive mind-set within the working environment.

Emma Storer & Jade Nixon

(Paediatric Occupational Therapists, Birmingham Community Healthcare)

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

References

Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2015) Supervision Guide for Occupational Therapists and their Managers. College of Occupational Therapists: London, UK. Available at: https://www.rcot.co.uk/sites/default/files/Supervision.pdf(Accessed 15/10/2020)

This project is funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust. If you’d like to learn more about the project you can do so via this link and the team behind it here