Sunday, September 16, 2007

PE-EFT Level 3 Training Begins

Entry for 14 September:

Last Tuesday, Level 3 training in Process-Experiential/Emotion-Focused Therapy formally began at Jordanhill. By a process of attrition from 30-plus at Level 1 in Summer 2006, to about 15 at Level 2 through the last academic year, we are now down to an dedicated group of 8 for the Level 3, which will focus primarily on supervision, meeting monthly between now and next June.

These folks have now been together for over a year, and so we know each other fairly well, which contributed to warm, reflective, almost intimate atmosphere. Of course cramming us into a small room roughly the size of boxcar also helped. As each of us walked in, we groaned at the absence of windows and comfy chairs, the institutional walls and table. Grahame in particular found it oppressively similar to the school rooms he often works in.

After sorting the important issues, like food (in contrast to this year’s Level 2 cohort (which started last week), we decided we wanted to continue the tradition of taking turns bringing food), we discussed the supervision process: I proposed task-focused, process-oriented supervision centred around participants bringing in video and audio recordings of their work. Specifically, the model of supervision that I use is characterized by the following:

1. It is always useful to begin supervision by saying what your supervision task is: Perhaps it is a question about a particularly difficult situation with a client, a stuck place, or a part of a session that you didn’t feel you handled as well as you would have liked to, or that didn’t go very well. Or perhaps it is a personal issue that has been activated by something that happened with a client. Maybe you simply want feedback about how you’re doing, because you’re not quite sure. Or maybe you are particularly pleased by how something went and want a bit of time to celebrate and share what you’ve learned. These are all different supervision tasks, and it really helps to know what the supervisee wants to get out of a piece of supervision work.

2. It is very helpful for supervisees to identify a segment or two needing attention and to cue the recording up to those segments. Then, the supervision can focus efficiently on these.

3. In pursuing different supervision tasks, a variety of supervision methods can be used, including micro-analysis of segments of recordings; more holistic listening to 10- 15 min of a session; more general work on personal issues raised by the material being supervised; disclosure by supervisor or group members of similar situations; group brainstorming on strategies for handling situations; role playing of situations being supervised; and mini-lectures on issues raised.

4. Issues of vulnerability and safety are important to the supervision process, as is the quality of the supervisory relationship or alliance, and therefore need to be addressed, particularly when problems emerge.

I’m not sure we addressed all of these issues, but we did cover most of them on Tuesday, After mastering the new AV set-up, we entered into the process of listening to and discussing cases and by the time break arrived, we (well, most of us) had come to see the space as quite conducive to in-depth exploration of the therapeutic and personal issues related to the cases we discussed. I haven’t seen anything on relational depth in supervision or in a group setting, but it really seemed to me that we managed to arrive at a deeper sense of one another, as we grappled with key elements of our practice, revealing pretty personal things to each other along the way. We left feeling pleased with the beginning of EFT-3.


Zoe Krupka said...

Dear Colleagues,
I am currently working as a therapist and supervisor primarily in the PEEFT mode in Melbourne Australia. I'm particulary interested in the use of the tasks as part of the process of both individual and group supervision,to help clarify and carry forward the learning for both counsellor and supervisor. I would really appreciate any comments on your experiences in this area. Zoe Krupka

Robert Elliott said...

Dear Zoe, I've been doing task-focused supervision for years, in both individual and group formats, so it just seems natural to me. I find that it engages the superfvisee as an active learner and bring focus to the supervision process. In practice, it involves beginning supervision with a particular supervisee simply by asking them what they would like help on and what they are hoping to get out this supervision. Of course, the supervision process then unfolds as it does and sometimes may go in a somewhat different direction, but I find that it really helps to take this as a starting point.
This approach is further developed, in a slightly different direction, by Ladany, Friedlander & Nelson in their recent book, Critical Events in Psychotherapy Supervision. -Robert

Zoe Krupka said...

Thank you for getting back to me I really appreciate it. I was in my supervision group the other night with George Wills, and he spoke warmly of you and asked that I send his regards.
In that session, a colleague described a two-chair task her supervisor took her through, in order to work on a split she was experiencing in her work with a client. She found this extremely helpful.
In the past few months, I have found the empty chair task to be really useful with supervisees who have had a client leave suddenly. It seems to act both as a debrief and a clarification of what went wrong in the work. I'm not sure if this is what you meant by task-focused supervision, but I would be keen to hear more. I will follow up the reference. Zoe

Robert Elliott said...

Zoe, I've never tried two-chair in that situation and am not sure exactly how it works, i.e., what the exact marker is. Is it the therapist's internal criticism triggered by the client leaving, that is blaming themselves? Or is it the unfinished business with the client who has disappeared without closure, i.e., is it really Empty Chair Work?

What I mean by task-focused supervision is just being very clear what the supervisee wants to accomplish in the supervision session. But using chair processes is an interesting possibility that is worth exploring further.

Zoe Krupka said...

The marker in the empty chair work is definitely not as it is for a client, in that the feelings are most often unrelated to a significant other, and not so intense in nature. So it's hard to say what we are doing really! But there are unresolved feelings that are present in the moment and being interrupted or minimized. There is often that sense too of the secondary emotions such as complaint, resignation or blame about the client.
Often I think these feelings get interrupted because of past personal history of emotional restriction, compounded by work environments where it is taboo to truly involve ourselves emotionally with the people we work with, leading to shame when our own schemes are set in motion.

Robert Elliott said...

Zoe: Nice analysis. You are correct, it is not exactly the same marker, because as you note the client is not a developmentally-significant other. But it is nevertheless an unfinished situation with another person, marked by unexpressed feelings and unmet needs (usually for closure), so empty chairwork is appropriate. And of course this is all amplified by an unsupportive work environment.