Interview with Allyson Davys & Liz Beddoe on why Supervision matters in the Helping Professions

Allyson Davys is Head of the School of Social Development at the Waikato Institute of Technology, New Zealand.

Liz Beddoe is Head of the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Here, they answer some questions about their new book, Best Practice in Professional Supervision: A Guide for the Helping Professions.

How did this book come about? What makes you so passionate about supervision?

This book represents the development of our thinking about teaching and the practice of supervision over the past 20 years. When we started teaching supervision there was very little written about the topic. Our teaching and ideas have paralleled many of the approaches and models of supervision which have emerged in the last two decades. We have followed the debates and the research and attempted to include these in our teaching. This book is an expression of what we have come to value and celebrate about supervision. It is also a way of capturing what we have learned.

We are passionate about teaching supervision because we believe in supervision as a process and as a key to professional practice. Over the years we have been privileged to share with practitioners their supervision experiences. The work of practitioners in health and social services is often hard and not always valued by service users or by the community. Supervision is where practitioners can go for replenishment and a safe space where they can, with honesty, explore their practice. Our passion comes from the appreciation of the work that practitioners do and from our determination that supervision provides a forum where they can be both affirmed and supported to stand back and consider, their practice with a critical eye.

What is the key role of a supervisor in the helping professions?

We believe that there are two key roles of the supervisor. The first is to facilitate learning: to create the space and hold it open so that the practitioner can learn from his or her practice. This means that the supervisor needs to have the skills of engagement – he or she must be able to engender trust and safety and be able to challenge. The second key role of a supervisor is to ensure that the boundaries of supervision and practice are maintained and to manage the tensions. At their peril do supervisors forget their accountabilities to organisation, profession or service users.

Can anyone be a good supervisor?

Many but not all practitioners can be good supervisors. Being a supervisor is more than a skill set – it includes a number of personal attributes and values such as a fundamental respect for practitioners, for clients and an ability to work within the framework of others. Supervisors need to be reflective, compassionate and clear headed. Fundamentally a good supervisor needs to be capable of his or her own honest and critical reflection.

What are the tangible benefits of good supervision for social workers, who are under enormous pressure to ‘do something’?

The most significant benefit of supervision is that it promotes reflective practice which in turn enables practitioners to ‘think’ before they ‘do something’. Supervision also provides the opportunities to reflect after intervention and avoid reactive practice which tends to be crisis-driven, unreflective and often repeats old and unhelpful interventions. Good supervision can assist to prepare social workers for the difficult choices and imperatives of practice with vulnerable people and can provide them with the space to express the emotions collected during the daily interactions with service users, who are often themselves under considerable stress.

At a time of cost-cutting, what arguments are there for funding supervision training?

Supervision is a practice in its own right. Good supervision promotes effective practice and assists practitioners to work safely and to keep well. Poor supervision can create collusion, indifference or add to the stress in the workforce. Practitioners may leave or burn out and leave. A key chapter in our book explores the evidence for supervision as a practice that promotes and sustains professional resilience. A resilient and healthy workforce is well worth the investment in training supervisors.

Our book helps to support these arguments by providing clear frameworks which guide a supervisor to best practice. The book rests on practice experience and draws widely from current research and scholarship, including research we have conducted ourselves. It is a resource which is both theoretical and practical.

Who are your role models in supervision?

Our role models in supervision are the many practitioners and supervisors who have also committed their ideas to paper. Peter Hawkins and Robin Shohet were the first of the new wave of author/practitioners of supervision to inspire us. Their text was refreshing and very accessible – it remains a favourite. Michael Carroll’s work is always engaging, challenging and thought provoking. The late Tony Morrison has been an influence and his work leaves a wealth of practical ideas and easy structures. Then there are the supervisors from our past who have inspired and challenged us out of my comfort zones and into new and creative territory. Finally there are the students who are so ready to engage, take risks to expose their practice and to grow.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010.

Watch a short video of Liz Beddoe introducing the new book, Best Practice in Professional Supervision!

Article by Jan Greenman on life with her son Luke, who has ADHD and Asperger Syndrome

Jan Greenman is the author of Life at the Edge and Beyond: Living with ADHD and Asperger Syndrome – a searingly honest account of bringing up her son, Luke. Writing frankly about the medical issues of Luke’s early years, including the impact of MMR and Ritalin, Jan recalls how Luke’s diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome and ADHD came about, and how life at The Edge, their aptly named family home, changed as a result.

Here, Jan shares some thoughts about her lively and unpredictable life with Luke, and about an amazing honour he received earlier this year.

Living with Luke’s labels is a daily rollercoaster ride and sometimes I want to opt out, especially as I am now, as Luke describes me to his friends, a ‘post 50 woman’ with less energy/ patience to keep up with his alternative way of thinking and behaving!

His conditions still bring to our household extreme, edgy and unpredictable behaviour each and every day. I say in my book that the only predictable thing about Luke is his unpredictability and so we still never know what to expect from him and more to the point, neither does he.

In April of this year Luke (now 18yrs) won a National award for his public speaking and mentoring of younger children with autism. He was filmed live on the BBC News Channel receiving his award from Konnie Huq at the Rotary International’s conference in Bournemouth and it was a very proud day for us as he was one of only 5 young people across the country to receive such an award. Who would have thought that the boy in my book, expelled from mainstream school just 3 years ago for his autistic and angry behaviour, would be standing on a platform being interviewed on national television in front of an audience of 2000 people for his ‘inspirational achievements’?

As I said to the BBC though, when they asked me for my reaction to his award, ‘he’s still hell to live with’ and he is! Our family, including Luke’s younger sister Abbi – who has contributed to the book with tips at the end of some chapters, Luke’s stepdad and four stepbrothers, all agree that living with Luke’s labels enriches our lives, and it unquestionably does – BUT we still have to endure the daily dramas that his autism/ADHD cause. He fills our house with his mates, who accept him as he is, strange habits and all, and enjoy his larger than life attitude and his ability to mimic all their favourite TV characters. He still doesn’t ‘do’ consequence and has no idea of what it’s like for the rest of us to share his space. I texted Luke at 3.30am this morning, telling him to keep the noise down and go to bed – he was sitting in our back garden with his mates all roaring with laughter as he held court, entertaining them with his usual LOUDness and with absolutely no awareness of the fact that the rest of us had to get up in four hours time. We can’t be cross with him though as it is just lovely to see/hear him making up for all those lonely years, spent in his own little autistic world in his bedroom, with no mates and no life.

Only a family’s love can and will enable him to achieve his huge and alternative potential, whilst living with the facts of Luke’s own inimitable brand of 24/7 chaos.

Watch a clip of Luke receiving his award on the BBC!

You can book Luke to speak at an event by contacting Jan at

Video clips from Phoebe Caldwell’s DVD, Autism and Intensive Interaction

We’re very pleased to bring you these clips from Phoebe Caldwell’s latest JKP title!

Autism and Intensive Interaction is a three part film following Phoebe as she works with children who she has never met before and who have been selected because staff find them difficult to engage. Together with Penny Mytton, a teacher at the school where the film takes place, Phoebe demonstrates how, by using the child’s own body language and sounds to create a ‘language’ that they recognise, a ‘conversation’ can be developed with children who are unable to use conventional communicative methods. To give context to the approach, Phoebe explores the nature of sensory difficulties associated with autism with GP Matt Hoghton, Clinical Champion in Learning Disabilities at the Royal College of General Practitioners. 

Clip #1: This trailer will give you an overview of the DVD.


Clip #2:
Watch this DVD clip of Phoebe working with a young man called Olly, who finds it difficult to join group activities and tends to wander about aimlessly. 

Atle Dyregrov on Supporting Traumatized Children and Teenagers

Dr Atle Dyregrov is a clinical psychologist and Director of the Center for Crisis Psychology in Bergen, Norway, which he founded with a colleague in 1988. He is a member of the executive board of The Children and War Foundation and a founding member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Dr Dyregrov is the author of numerous publications, journal articles, and books. Here, Dr Dyregrov answers questions about his work and his latest JKP title, Supporting Traumatized Children and Teenagers: A Guide to Providing Understanding and Help.

In 1988 you co-founded the Center for Crisis Psychology in Norway. How did you come to work with traumatised children, and how has the institutional approach to trauma interventions changed over the last twenty years?

As a student I was a research assistant to Magne Raundalen who worked with children with cancer and their families. I was then asked by the head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University hospital in Bergen to apply for a grant to study parents who lost children. From there the path went to four years at the University of Bergen where we found it most functional to found a non-profit private center to be able to take our ideas of integrating research, clinical work and teaching to the next stage. Especially trauma interventions has undergone a tremendous change over the years, with better intervention methods available. However, trauma services vary within and between countries although some harmonizing gradually takes place.

In your new book, you discuss the importance of group work for the traumatised child. What does group work entail? Victims of what kinds of trauma benefit most from groupwork?

There are very varied potentially traumatic situations that children face. Some are experienced together with other children, others are individually experienced. Group work will differ depending on the trauma in question. Following a critical event that children have experienced together, they will usually benefit from group work by being able to get an overview of the event, put it in a time frame and get structure to their experience. In addition they can learn that others react as themselves. If they have experienced a trauma in isolation, i.e. sexual or physical abuse, the group will last over a longer time, usually with more demands on the group leader, but still children usually find the normalisation most important. This means that others react and experience such event in similar ways to their own. In the group they also can learn different coping methods from other participants and the group leaders. It is difficult to rank what traumas benefit most from groupwork as the research still is rather sparse.

What factors determine how a young person reacts to a traumatic situation and which kinds of support they need?

Reactions are determined by a variety of factors. Usually one can group these in three, a) exposure factors – what the child has experienced, for how long and at what intensity, b) person factors related to aspects of the child’s personality (i.e. hardiness, coping methods at its disposal), history (previous trauma and losses) and previous psychological problems, and c) the recovery environment including the family, school, social network and professional mental health resources. Support needed depends on how the child perceives the situation, their reactions and the reactions of their caretaker. By assessing what the child need, a plan for follow-up can be made.

In the book you discuss the need for ‘helping the helpers.’ What are some self-help techniques that professionals can use to help counter the second-hand effects of supporting traumatised young people?

There are a variety of self-help techniques that the individual can use for their own sake. Most helpers know what works for them, that be exercise, relaxation, writing, music, massage etc. In addition to individual methods, there must be systems in place to secure good follow-up for personnel involved in critical incidents or in work with traumatized children over time.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010.

Help at last for the Aspergirls: Telegraph article features new JKP book by Rudy Simone

Today the Telegraph has published an article called ‘Help at last for the Aspergirls’ that features comments from JKP author Rudy Simone about her new book, Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome.  

Read the article ‘Help at last for the Aspergirls: A new book highlights the number of women who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome without knowing’

Video: Liz Beddoe discusses Best Practice in Professional Supervision in the helping professions

Author Liz Beddoe recently stopped by JKP’s London HQ to record a short video highlighting some of the key features of the new book, Best Practice in Professional Supervision: A Guide for the Helping Professions – including the crucial chapter on child protection.

Click below to watch!

Video clips from the new Animated Introduction to Asperger Syndrome DVD!

**Winner – International Animation Award, Edinburgh Mental Health & Arts Festival 2008**

Created by pioneering science and youth arts project Biomation, An Animated Introduction to Asperger Syndrome is an accessible film that explains through a series of lively animations what Asperger Syndrome is, what it feels like and how it can be helped, in a way that is both informative and easy to understand.

Below are some highlights from the DVD – enjoy!