Reflective Supervision

Many supervisors of infant and family programs are required to provide administrative and/or clinical supervision, while reflective supervision may be optional. Put another way, reflective supervision/consultation often includes administrative elements and is always clinical, while administrative and clinical supervision are not always reflective.

Reflective Supervision
  • Form a trusting relationship between supervisor and practitioner
  • Establish consistent and predictable meetings and times
  • Ask questions that encourage details about the infant, parent and emerging relationships
  • Listen
  • Remain emotionally present
  • Teach/guide
  • Nurture/support
  • Apply the integration of emotion and reason
  • Foster the reflective process to be internalized by the supervisee
  • Explore the parallel process and to allow time for personal reflection
  • Attend to how reactions to the content affect the process

Reflective supervision is a shared exploration of the parallel process. That is, attention to all of the relationships is important, including the ones between practitioner and supervisor, between practitioner and parent, and between parent and infant/toddler. It is critical to understand how each of these relationships affects the others. Of additional importance, reflective supervision/consultation relates to professional and personal development within one’s discipline by attending to the emotional content of the work and how reactions to the content affect the work. Finally, there is often greater emphasis on the supervisor/consultant’s ability to listen and wait, allowing the supervisee to discover solutions, concepts and perceptions on his/her own without interruption from the supervisor/consultant.

Reflective supervision /consultation may mean different things depending on the program in which it occurs. Reflective supervision/consultation may be carried out individually or within a group. A reflective supervisor or consultant may be hired/contracted from outside the agency or program, and may be offered to an individual or group/team in order to examine and respond to case material. If the supervisor or consultant is contracted from outside the agency or program, he or she will engage in reflective and clinical discussion, but will not engage in administrative objectives unless it is clearly indicated in the contract. If the reflective supervision/consultant operates within the agency or program, then he/she will most likely need to address reflective, clinical, and administrative objectives.

Administrative Supervision
  • Hire
  • Train/educate
  • Oversee paperwork
  • Write reports
  • Explain rules and policies
  • Coordinate
  • Monitor productivity
  • Evaluate

Administrative supervision relates to the oversight of federal, state, and agency regulations, program policies, rules and procedures.

Clinical Supervision

Clinical supervision is case-focused, and does not necessarily consider what the practitioner brings to the intervention nor does it necessarily encourage the exploration of emotion as it relates to work with an infant/toddler and family.

Supervision or consultation that is primarily clinical will most likely include many or all of the administrative objectives that are listed above as well as the following:

  • Review casework
  • Discuss the diagnostic impressions and diagnosis
  • Discuss the intervention strategies related to the intervention
  • Review the intervention or treatment plan
  • Review and evaluate clinical progress
  • Give guidance/advice
  • Teach

View the current Best Practices Guidelines for Reflective Supervision/Consultation document.

Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia
Partners in Community Outreach West Virginia
Western Regional CASA
West Virginia Infant Toddler Mental Health Association
Mountain State Healthy Families