In supervision the other week, after sharing about feeling overwhelmed by my caseload, my supervisor offered me a metaphor. She said she could see clear signs of burn out—that my usually sharp therapy “knife” had a dull blade. The image of trying to cut with a dull knife was like a palm-to-forehead moment. Elegant marriage and family therapy requires a level of precision, a sharpness, that is skilled and carefully tended. My supervisor had held up a mirror to my experience and shown me the truth. I left feeling motivated to make changes in my schedule and looking forward to deepening self-care.
Supervision is important no matter what stage of your MFT career you’re in. In graduate school, supervision provides the emotional support and concrete treatment planning suggestions necessary to learn the practice of marriage and family therapy. As a newly licensed therapist, a supervisor helps you navigate clinical site issues and build confidence in your professional identity. Even in my case as a seasoned MFT, supervision is a helpful way to get case consultation and prevent burn out. Supervision should be a safe place where you can be genuine about all the amazing and difficult parts of being a therapist. It should restore you, inspire you, and support you.
Inspired to find yourself a supervisor? You can search for an AAMFT Approved Supervisor here. (https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/directories/supervisor_terms_of_use.aspx). or there is also a list of supervisors approved by the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx).
May we all find ourselves practicing marriage and family therapy with the help of a supervisor!
Emily T. Cook, Ph.D., LCMFT
President-Elect, Middle Atlantic Division AAMFT