Practice Implementing Supervision in Mental Health Community Managed Organisations

Implementing Practice Supervision in Mental Health Community Managed Organisations in NSW - recommendations and tools for implementing 'Practice' Supervision.

It is widely accepted that all professionals working in the mental health field, whether clinicians or not, experienced or just starting out, will benefit from regular practice supervision. Supervision is a tool with which CMOs can build capacity, promote best practice, maintain staff-wellbeing, enhance staff professionalism, build staff cohesion and share experience across the sector. It is perhaps the most important element in the development of a competent practitioner. The supervisory relationship should be a complex blend of professional, educational and therapeutic aspects. It is within the context of supervision that professionals develop a sense of professional identity and examine their own beliefs and attitudes regarding clients and the work they undertake.

MHCC have launched a resource which sets out to provide recommendations for the development of effective supervision programs and policy across the community managed mental health sector. Through the literature review the resource explores different understandings and definitions of supervision; examines histories and theories of supervision, outlines practice models and reports on the findings from the study conducted by MHCC into current supervision practices within the mental health community managed sector in NSW. Suggested readings and case studies direct those with a deeper interest to access information which can further assist them in developing policy and practice. MHCC seeks to provide the reader with a guide to the main issues in supervision, and to provoke discussion on the appropriate application of supervision in NSW CMOs.

We have also explored ways in which CMOs are currently using supervision practice, examined potential benefits and costs, and identified some of the barriers to its effective use, making suggestions for organisations to consider when developing a supervision model appropriate to a particular program type, or when reviewing an existing model in place.

The structure of this paper comprises the following discreet aspects:

  • A literature review: providing research evidence internationally and in Australia across a number of community/ allied health sectors as to experience and evidence based practice in both public/ CMO / private settings over many decades.
  • Scoping current practices identified through fifteen consultations with six MHCC member organisations investigating the challenges and opportunities that organisations, their managers and supervisors are experiencing.
  • A report analysing the themes that arose from the consultations.
  • Suggested supervision strategies for CMOs to utilise that take into account the differing service context and worker roles and responsibilities.

The issue of supervision is one that has clearly emerged as a critical issue in sector workforce development and the creation of best practice in community managed workplace culture. The Supervision Project arose out of response to an evident gap in the knowledge base surrounding supervision practices in CMOs across the community mental health and human services sectors in NSW. MHCC hope that this resource goes at least some of the way in filling the gap in knowledge around supervisory practices, and provides a useful springboard to further studies and research in the field.

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For further information please contact Corinne Henderson, MHCC Senior Policy Officer  t: 02 9555 8388 ext 101 e: