And can we talk about supervision?

I’d love you to cast your mind back to a moment when you were facilitating or working with a client and you didn’t know what to do?

What did it feel like when you didn’t know what to do next?

What was going on in your body?

What were you thinking and believing? About you? Your practice? Your clients or participants?

Did shame flood your body?

Did you say to yourself  ‘I don’t know enough’?  or ‘Im not good enough’
Did you go into hours of agonising afterwards saying ‘If only i had done this, said this‘ etc.

Did you hold on to that feeling of shame and did that get in the way of the next workshop you ran?

Or did you pretend to others (and yourself) that you knew what you were doing but deep down inside you felt uncomfortable with this?

Or did you surrender?

Did you surrender to the moment – aware that not knowing might take you somewhere amazing?

Did you share that not knowing with your participants/clients?

And did that take you all in a new direction you didn’t expect?

Or perhaps you knew in theory you should surrender, and even share your thought that you didn’t know what to do next but you felt scared and so you hid.

You weren’t sure how it would go down with those you were working with.
Perhaps they would expect you to know the answers?

What will they think of me if they realise I don’t know?

If you have had any one of these experiences or thoughts then you will most certainly will be in good company as many facilitators, teachers, lecturers, practitioners, and those who work with others in helping professions, will face circumstances and situations where it wasn’t clear what to do next, where there was no easy path. It’s part of the territory of working in challenging settings.

Practitioners also face the incongruence between an image in their minds of their ‘ideal’ best practice or of themselves as their ‘best’ version of self – how they would love to be showing up – and then the hard reality in the messiness of context and complexity.

The vulnerability hangover experienced in the moment of uncertainty or doubt, or after you put yourself out there and taking a risk is real and very normal.

But what you do with the feeling can either point you in the direction of growth, or it can whittle away at your confidence.

Being acutely aware of the gap between how you would like to be and show up as a practitioner and how actually it turns out in reality – can point you to curiosity, or produce disillusionment or even shame.

Being able to sit with uncertainty, especially when faced in front of a group or a client can feel very challenging and it’s why many practitioners will try to control the situations so this cannot ever happen and will hide parts of themselves.

But this doesn’t always feel satisfactory if you identify as a heart-centred practitioner and your top value is to bring YOU because you want to show up authentically and as a human in the room.

So if this resonates, let me ask you this…

How do you ensure that you are supported in your work?

Where is your space where you can be honest about that difficult moment? Where you can talk about the the challenges [and the successes] of the work in a safe, welcoming and friendly space?

I can say from my heart that having a supportive space like this is so key for your practice to grow and thrive.

Supervision is a funny, contentious term

Supervision is a funny term as it conjures up different things to different people. Perhaps the image envisaged is the idea of someone overseeing you, telling you what to do, even line managing you.

When I started offering supervision I wondered whether I should even use the the word supervision because of assumptions people might have. The term reflective practice could be used instead. But then I also thought we need to demystify supervision.

Supervision creates a space for you to reflect, either one-to-one, or in a group, on the challenging moments you experience in your practice.

Reflecting on your practice in a safe, accepting and non judgemental way means that you come away from challenging situations curious and encouraged rather than sitting isolated in shame and disillusionment.

I cant emphasise how important supervision is to ensure you and your practice continue to thrive.

Supervision creates the opportunity for you to reflect on and develop your own unique style of working with others.

It enables a space where you can explore the thoughts and feelings that emerge for you and disentangle whats going on.

Supervision can enable you to wonder about the role of the system and the wider context and its relationship to the work.

Supervision can help you to really grow exponentially as a practitioner and crucially, will enable you to keep doing the work you love.

Supervision is essential not a luxury

If you are a practitioner who works in settings that are challenging I highly recommend you find a way to get some supervision.

As one of my clients recently shared with me, because she knows, from her own experience, that supervision not a luxury its absolutely essential.

I truly believe that supervision is the missing piece if you are wanting to grow and really thrive in your work as a heart-centred practitioner.

Practitioners report to me that isolation is so common. When we are feeling unsure about our practice, we have a tendency to hide and isolate ourselves further. However, the very thing that will help us in that moment, will be to connect with others who understand our experience.

So if you know you sometimes experience doubt or uncertainty, or are worrying about your work I urge you to find ways of connecting with others. What you do is important, and I urge you to invest in yourself in the same way you invest with your clients and participants. It’s so important!

This is why I created Thriving Facilitators.

Thriving Facilitators offers a hybrid of support, training and supervision for heart-centred practitioners who work in helping professions including; lecturers, facilitators who work in prisons, day centres and schools, and theatres, freelancers, CIC directors and CEO providing frontline community based work.

Crucially, Thriving Facilitators offers community support, and we have our very own blend of supervision opportunities:

We run specific group supervision sessions, and hold workshops that invite you to explore your reflective practice journey through themed sessions. There’s also a roadmap designed to support your own personal journey.

Importantly the membership is designed to be inexpensive so it can be sustainable.

Sustainable, ongoing support is absolutely essential for growth.

If you are interested in finding out more about Thriving Facilitators you can click this link. Its opening for new members on the 26th February for a few days.

While you are waiting, why not take this quiz and see where you are on the path to thriving as a heart-centred practitioner! Let me know your results!

To your thriving!

About the author 

Sheila Preston

I am Dr Sheila Preston, a transformative practitioner with over 23 years’ experience in education, community settings. I have trained and supported hundreds of socially engaged artists and practitioners. Now I help brilliantly courageous practitioners who are working with communities who are experiencing difficulties in their lives and/or who work in challenging settings* These practitioners are committed to working in a heart-centred, relational way with vulnerable or hard to reach communities. I help these amazing practitioners get out of survival mode and THRIVE so they can lean into their heart-centred practice, and lead social change without burning out! I am committed to finding affordable solutions for on-going coaching or support for practitioners which is why I developed the Thriving Facilitators Membership. *settings such as, prison and probation, schools and universities, pupil referral, day centres, SEN settings, mental health, health care, social services, neighbourhoods.

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