Friday, 27 May 2022

Never worry alone

What wise words are "'Never worry alone', as a wise mentor often stated" (Mostow, 2015, 10:18). Instead, we can share our professional worries with our supervisor, or mentor. This person is someone who is more experienced than ourselves, to whom we know we can turn to - and whom we do turn regularly - for sound advice.

But why do we need a 'supervisor' when we are in education or career practice? Because we are professional people within a profession. Part of being a professional is constantly seeking to improve our practice:

"Supervision is essential to the trainee who is mastering the skills of [their] chosen profession. But it also is essential to the professions themselves. To appreciate this assertion requires an understanding of the nature of the professions (see, e.g., Goodyear & Guzzardo, 2000). Compared to workers in other types of occupations, professionals (a) work with substantially greater autonomy; (b) rely on a knowledge base that is highly specialized (Abbott, 1988); and (c) make judgments under conditions of uncertainty (Sechrest et al., 1982). The last is a work attribute of the professions that Schön (1983) vividly characterized as “working in the swampy lowlands” (p. 42) of practice (in contrast to technicians who work from a prescribed protocol on situations that typically are carefully constrained). 

"Because of the very specialized knowledge of professions, it is generally assumed that laypeople lack the knowledge to oversee them. Therefore, society permits the professions to self-regulate. But it does so with the understanding that members of the professions will place the welfare of society and of their clients above their own self-interests (see, e.g., Cruess, Johnston, & Cruess, 2004; Schein, 1973; Schön, 1983). That self-regulation includes controlling who is admitted to practice, setting standards for members’ behavior, and disciplining incompetent or unethical members." (Bernard & Goodyear, 2019, p. 4)

The problems which we may encounter within our fields are often industry-specific, detailed and complex. Thus a key tool for us to improve our practice is to have specialised professional supervision from more experienced practitioners: those who have been through what we are going through now, and who understand the nuances.

We need a supervisor who is now a professional in supervising: one who has learned to supervise alongside their practice. 

A supervisor accompanies us on our development journey so that we need never worry alone.



  • Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (2019). Fundamentals of clinical supervision (6th ed.). Allyn and Bacon.
  • Bronson, M. K. (2001). Chapter 9: Supervision of career counseling. In L. J. Bradley & N. Ladany (Eds.), Counselor supervision (3rd ed., pp. 222-244). Brunner-Routledge.
  • Mostow, C. (21 Mar 2015). Bridging Difference and Power with RESPECT: A Relational Approach to Patients, Supervisees and Teams [video].

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