Supervision is meta-therapy. It is the practice of psychotherapy and spiritual direction on steroids. In the same way that consultation assists a psychotherapist to grow by examining symptoms, problems and technique development, supervision assists a practitioner to recognize instances and ways to allow the Holy Spirit into the session. It provides a space for practitioners to explore their deepest feelings and how God is present, and active, in the middle the therapeutic relationship. In my mind there is little difference in supervision of directors and psychotherapists. The overall process for both involves support, teaching, consultation but most importantly how the clinician can use their own reactions and emotions as a clue to God working to heal. The more the practitioner can be aware of their own inner workings the more effective they will be.
Supervision of spiritual directors is an art form. It is a process of relinquishing to Divine Mind and allowing Holy Spirit to direct the session. Listening is central to all spiritual practices and takes on a deeper dimension in direction and supervision.
By addressing the spiritual teacher’s own reactions and emotions in a session we address the deepest points of connection with the Divine. These points of tension, of emotion, are where God is inside the mind attempting to awaken the Director.
True supervision is a package of services centered around allowing our self to be restored. We become more effective as counselors the more we understand our own unsettled past and most importantly how God is trying to teach us to love and trust. Consultation is an aspect of supervision, just as is support, teaching and encouragement. Exploration of diagnosis and technique is useful, but the real meat of the supervision process is understanding the emotional reaction that presents itself in the dramas of our client’s lives.
Countertransference is the word we learned in college to define our inner response to a client. It is enormously important to know ourselves as therapists. You are the tool that the universe is using to help the person sitting in front of you heal. The psychotherapist needs a safe, open environment to explore the origin of their feelings, thoughts and actions toward their client. This is where our personal past and unhealed psyche is touched. The learning moment for the therapist is the countertransference. Our own personal unresolved history comes to play here: feelings of inadequacy, unlovedness, issues of sexuality and guilt that get played out in the scene that the client presents and to which we react. This is the meta-therapy that can help the clinician truly comes to grips with their own wounds. This place of psychological healing is magnified as the clinician experiences the healing power of Spirit. As we work to help the client forgive themselves and others; it’s the perfect moment to learn that lesson ourselves. The client’s wounds trigger our wounds and we both need forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is right there offering loving forgiveness, because that is what He is: Love.