A PASSION FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
In this newsletter, Dr Lynda Osborne, Course Lead for our PG Certificate/Diploma programme in Relational Supervision, talks about her passion for teaching and learning, and briefly discusses our new Relational Matrix model of supervision. The programme has been developed to meet the needs of both organisational and clinical practitioners, and Lynda highlights the advantages of this blended learning experience. The matrix model is currently being evaluated by the Relational Change researcher-in-residence, Jill Ashley-Jones, as a component of her doctoral studies and we will be reporting outcomes in due course.
At eighteen I studied English because I enjoyed it, but it took me some years to recognise that it was the people, and their stories, that fascinated and enthralled me. Subsequently I changed direction to Social Sciences and, later, to counselling and psychotherapy, and clients’ lived experiences.
In contrast to this changing focus from fiction to reality, I vividly remember always wanting to teach. At five, I helped other children learn to read and also taught a friend my own painstaking way of tying shoelaces! The very first time that I stood in a classroom I felt that I had 'come home': I had stepped into shoes which, even if new and not yet worn-in, were already comfortable. Later again, I re-experienced that sense of 'being at home in the world' when I became a counselling trainer and began to integrate my teaching and counselling experiences.
I have now supervised and trained counsellors and psychotherapists for thirty years. The privilege of being alongside students whilst they gain self awareness, develop skills, offer a relational approach to their clients and become effective professionals has been an ongoing pleasure and source of satisfaction. Working with colleagues and being part of a team has been another rich experience involving times of shared laughter, strong theoretical debates and mutual support for the training.
Throughout my working life, I have benefited hugely from supervision and remain grateful for my experiences of learning, being challenged, supported and accepted. I consider the role of the supervisor in both coaching/consulting and counselling/psychotherapy to be of paramount importance in the support, development and governance of our clients, practitioners and profession.
Creating and then contributing to a blended supervision training has challenged Sally, Marie-Anne and I to review our philosophy and approaches to supervision, attend to wider policy requirements, develop a new model and also share our passion for this role with participants. We have discussed our various strands of expertise in coaching, consulting and counselling/psychotherapy and how we contribute to an enhanced learning experience for participants. Indeed, our discussions have led to writing a paper that more fully expands this point (in press). We have considered the range of tasks involved, the concomitant skills needed, shared our understanding of a developmental model and the fundamental importance of a relational approach.
Writing about teaching, Kahlil Gibran considers how we cannot give our own understanding to another, but we can lead a person "to the threshold of their own mind”. Whilst all forms of supervision include both teaching and evaluative tasks, this awakening of a supervisee’s own understanding in the relational process with their own supervisor is integral to developing expertise. Although this has been long recognised in counselling and therapy, this view is increasingly shared by leading edge practitioners in coaching and consulting.
Supervision, coaching, organisational consulting and counselling/psychotherapy usually take place in a closed room, but they do not occur in a vacuum. Culture and context profoundly affect the process of both learning and delivering services. Accordingly, the significance of differing situations is core to our new ‘Relational Matrix’ model and another reason why we believe our programme is strengthened by including both organisational and clinical professionals. Indeed, we find this blends both breadth of vision (organisational skills), with attention to detail (clinical skills), and supports our gestalt approach that highlights attention to both figure and ground. In this way our model is radically inclusive and also adaptable to a very diverse range of applications.
In my profession, I spent 25 years in managerial roles, both paid and voluntary. I know personally, at many levels, the significance of the structure and ethos of the organisation within which work takes place. Whether this is a supervisee in a placement, a coach invited into an organisation, or a consulting assignment within a large system, attention to context requires our ongoing attention. Indeed, my doctoral research into the role of a Head of Department at Metanoia Institute further evidenced the complexities and competing demands this involved: the need to take a field-relational perspective was clear.
I am also very aware that this supervisor/trainer has been a trainee nearly all her life with occasional gaps! For me it is important to continue to be sustained by being taught and to remember the excitement and risks of new challenges and another learning curve.
Finally, there are no teachers without learners, and I remain immensely grateful to those past and current clients, trainees and supervisees who have taught me and with whom I continue to learn.
You can read Lynda's bio, and learn about the whole RC team, here.