There are many different types of supervision. This guidance outlines ‘professional’ supervision, a concept which is relatively new to the sign language interpreting profession. This form of supervision is very different from line management supervision, which many interpreters may be more familiar with. The purpose of supervision is for supervisees to have designated time, often monthly, with their supervisor to reflect on their practice. This gives them the opportunity to take a step back and explore issues that arise in their work. In this type of supervision the focus is often very much on the dynamics of interpreted interaction, including the emotional and psychological issues which can arise.
Professional Supervision is increasingly being recognised as a vital tool which enables interpreters (and other ‘people-facing’ professionals) to reflect on their work in a confidential and supportive setting. Professional Supervision offers the supervisee a safe and protected space where they can discuss complex work issues. It provides interpreters with an opportunity to explore, discuss and reflect upon the issues, emotions and dilemmas which can originate from their work and caseload. Discussing work with a Professional Supervisor encourages the development of skills, fosters a deeper understanding of the supervisee’s work, and allows them to reflect upon the distress and emotional trauma they can encounter in their professional domain.
Supervisors will hold a qualification or have competed some training in supervision focusing on the different models of supervision, legal and ethical considerations within supervision and supervisory skills. Supervisors will be undergoing supervision themselves.
What are the benefits of supervision?
Supervision can benefit all interpreters regardless of whether they are still training, recently qualified, or are experienced practitioners. Supervision can be tailored to suit the particular needs of the supervisee.
Benefits of supervision include:
- Receiving validation for work practices
- An opportunity to explore dilemmas that arise in work
- Increasing confidence in skills and competence
- Reducing stress by talking about issues that arise, as they arise
- Gaining a different perspective on your work
- Receiving feedback and guidance
An interpreter describes how supervision has benefited her practice:
“…supervision has been invaluable, it has provided time and space in a busy schedule to reflect on practice and develop strategies which might be useful in the future. It has been extremely helpful to have an experienced practitioner to help me to review and understand interpreting situations that have occurred, particularly to identify different factors that have influenced an interaction, the interpersonal dynamics of a situation and residual emotions and feeling attached to them. I have also benefited from gentle guidance, encouraging me to consider how to possibly manage different aspects of future assignments.”
Types of professional supervision
The most common supervision arrangements are group supervision and individual supervision. Below is a brief overview of each:
Group supervision is facilitated by a supervisor and provides an opportunity for supervisees to share issues with other colleagues and benefit from the wealth of experience within the group. The supervisor takes responsibility for helping the group to run smoothly, for example monitoring time keeping, focusing discussion and managing group dynamics. At present, in the absence of trained supervisors in the field of interpreting, interpreters have turned to professional supervisors from other professions (e.g. therapeutic and counselling backgrounds, in which supervision is an established practice). Such an arrangement can be successful, for example, a supervisor from a therapeutic background would be experienced in reflective and ethical practice and could also offer a different perspective on interpreting issues.
Individual supervision takes place between a supervisor and a supervisee. The advantage of individual supervision is that supervisees do not need to compete for time as they would in a group, and the focus of the full session is on the supervisee and the issues they wish to bring. Supervisees do not have the benefit of alternative perspectives from group members and are reliant on their supervisor for guidance. For this reason it is worth considering the advantages of finding a supervisor from the interpreting profession.
Finding a Supervisor
Interpreters that hold qualifications in supervision can be found using the find an interpreters search, or by checking the list on our find a supervisor page
Anyone who is interested in becoming a supervisor can access existing courses. Some courses are open to practitioners in professions other than counselling and therapy.
Information about how to set up a supervision group can be found here
Disclaimer: ASLI takes no responsibility for external training providers or the Additional Skills claims made by Members appearing within our Membership search. Members must carry out their own checks to ensure training and Supervisiors are suitable for their own requirements.
You can read more about supervision in the articles below:
Hawkins, P., & Shohet, R. (2006). Supervision in the helping professions (3rd ed.). Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Cutcliffe, J. R., Butterworth, T., & Proctor, B. (2001). Fundamental themes in clinical supervision. London, UK: Routledge.
Carroll, M. (2006). Counselling supervision: Theory, skills and practice. London, UK: Sage
Feasey, D. (2005). Good practice in supervision with psychotherapists and counsellors. London, UK: Whurr.
Inskipp, F., & Proctor, B. (1995). The art, craft and tasks of counselling supervision: Part 2. Becoming a supervisor: Professional development for counsellors, psychotherapists, supervisors and trainers.
Twickenham, UK: CASCADE.
Morton-Cooper, A., & Palmer, A. (2000). Mentoring, preceptorship and clinical supervision: A guide to professional roles in clinical practice (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science
Page, S., & Wosket, V. (2001). Supervising the counsellor: A cyclical model (2nd ed.). Hove, UK: Brunner-Routledge