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Creating Time for Supervision

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This week’s post brought to you by guest blogger Sarah Foley, Associate Director of Counseling and Outreach at the YWCA Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program in Spokane, WA.   

There is never enough time in the day to complete all the work that needs to be done, including providing supervision to advocates and staff. Many times crisis and conflicting meetings result in supervision getting rescheduled or canceled. Recently, I in partnership with WSCADV administered a survey on supervision to a representative group of WSCADV’s Member Programs. Many supervisors and advocates said that supervision was scheduled weekly, but 56% of respondents on the advocate survey and 47% on the supervisor survey claimed that it did not happen with consistency and predictability. So, how can priority be given to supervision?

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Some organizations and supervisors may be able to provide weekly supervision (awesome!), but for most organizations that may not be a reality.  A scheduled weekly meeting for supervision is setting unrealistic expectations for many staff and supervisors. But I’ve got great news! Many advocates and staff are not looking for weekly supervision.  Here is a comparison of supervisors’ and advocates’ ideal supervision:

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Creating scheduled supervision biweekly or monthly can benefit both staff and supervisors.  Having meetings scheduled less frequently can help prioritize supervision; it can lend more importance to the meetings when they are scheduled.  While having fewer scheduled meetings with advocates and staff can be concerning if the ideal is weekly supervision, 60% of advocates report being very satisfied with the availability of their supervisor outside of scheduled supervision.

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Results from this survey suggest that it is important for supervisors to be flexible and realistic about supervision.  Scheduling fewer meetings but holding those times consistent could free up time on the calendar and provide the supervision that advocates need. What do you think? How are you making supervision work at your agency?