Browse our latest collection of new and bestselling titles in counselling and psychotherapy

Here are our new and bestselling titles in counselling and psychotherapy. For more information on any of the books inside, simply click the title or cover image to view the full book page.

Incorporating creativity in supervision

Chesner-Zografo_Creative-Superv_978-1-84905-316-7_colourjpg-print Anna Chesner, co-author of Creative Supervision Across Modalities, explains why using creativity in supervision sessions can benefit both the supervisor and supervisee, and gives her top tips for any therapist or helping professional new to using this approach.

Why is the use of creativity so effective in supervision sessions?
Creativity helps to link right brain and left brain understanding of practice. Often as practitioners we may have a feeling of stuckness, or going round in circles. Using creative methods helps us to facilitate new perspectives and fresh energy.

How can creative supervision ensure that a fresh perspective is maintained in supervision sessions, and how does this benefit the supervisor and supervisee?
Creative supervision can bring a new perspective and fresh energy to reflecting on our clinical or other professional practice. This in term can bring fresh energy and clarity to our sessions with clients. If supervision itself lacks vitality it may become part of the problem, rather than facilitating possible solutions.

In chapters 2 and 3 of your new book you write about the importance of roles in creative supervision – why is this? Which of the roles you mention do you think it is most difficult for a new supervisor to take on? Is there one that they tend to slip into more easily?
Not so much roles as an understanding of role (singular). The concept of role helps us to think about our “way of being” and our clients’ way of being. It is a practical tool for looking at patterns of behaviour and relating. Supervisor’s need an awareness of the multiple roles they may inhabit as a supervisor, and in the best case some role flexibility. Similarly, practitioners from all fields can benefit from thinking about their own roles in their practice, and indeed the roles of their clients within their various systems.

What is the most challenging thing you have to cover with trainee supervisors? What is it that they usually struggle most with in terms of incorporating creativity into sessions?
Supervision trainees have firstly to meet the challenge of getting to grips with the role of supervisor, which is distinct from their more familiar roles as clinician. There is an added challenge in learning how to use creative techniques in a way that is a spontaneous response to the supervisory question or focus and remains firmly within the frame of supervision.

Why is it that ‘irrational’ thinking can be such a crucial part of the creative process?
Not so much irrational as out of awareness, or known only implicitly. Face to face clinical work involves the practitioner in complex, multi-layered interactions, where physical or felt sense, and imagination are as important as the actual words spoken. Our right brain awareness can be brought to light particularly well through creative approaches to supervision.

You mention several times the importance of establishing a clear focus in the supervisory session – why is this?
A clear focus or supervisory question is helpful for a number of reasons. It ensures transparency about what kind of help or reflection opportunity is being sought. It supports a collaborative approach between supervisor and supervisee. It reveals the level at which a supervisee is able to reflect on and articulate their process.

What are the top tips you would give to a supervisor who is new to using creativity in their sessions?
– Reflect on your own interventions in the light of supervision theory
– Bring your creative supervision practice to your own supervision space
– Remain open to new learning
– Undertake training in the use of creative supervision methods


Celebrating the launch of ‘Forensic Music Therapy’

Forensic Music TherapyJKP were delighted to attend the launch of Forensic Music Therapy: A Treatment for Men and Women in Secure Hospital Settings on Friday 25th January at the stunning Burgh House in Hampstead, London.

Hosted by the three editors of the book, Stella Compton Dickinson, Helen Odell-Miller and John Adlam, and attended by many of those who had authored individual chapters, the evening brought together not only music therapists, but many professional musicians, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals. We were treated to an evening of beautiful music by the Henry Lowther Quartet followed by two solo oboe recitals. The editors, and Dr. Gill McGauley, Consultant Psychiatrist at Broadmoor Hospital, spoke about the ground-breaking work that the book sheds light on, and the proven effectiveness of music therapy with those in secure settings, especially in encouraging feelings of empathy. They also spoke about the rarity of being able to obtain informed consent for case studies involving high security offenders, another factor which makes this book unique.

Click below to see a video of Stella Compton Dickinson’s speech at the celebratory evening:



© 2013 JKP blog. All Rights Reserved.

A case study extract from ‘Forensic Music Therapy’ – Working with Conflict

Stella Compton Dickinson, editor

This is an edited extract from Forensic Music Therapy: A Treatment for Men and Women in Secure Hospital Settings edited by Stella Compton Dickinson, Helen Odell-Miller and John Adlam. This case study comes from Chapter 7, ‘Working with Conflict: A Summary of Developments in the Long-term Treatment of a Man Suffering with Paranoid Schizophrenia Who Committed Manslaughter’, by Stella Compton Dickinson and Manjit Gahir.


This chapter describes the process of long-term music therapy over seven years with a man who we shall call “Ewan.” Ewan has given informed consent for case material to be used in telling the story of his rehabilitation; his real name has not been used. Ewan suffered with paranoid schizophrenia and whilst actively psychotic with hallucinations and delusions, he killed a man.


Committed to hospital for an indefinite period after being convicted of the offence, Ewan spent ten years in high secure detention without undertaking therapy until he requested a referral to music therapy, “to learn to play the violin” as his grandfather had done. He engaged in music therapy as his main psychological treatment. The intervention and its impact were new to the clinical team who had to adjust to the fact that internal changes were starting to happen for a patient who they had known to be static for many years. Thus their own past experiences, their judgments of Ewan in the face of fear when he had erupted with violent outbursts, and their perceptions for his future were all challenged.

Music therapy

Ewan’s fundamentally chaotic presentation was marked by fixed perseveration, which is typical of schizophrenia. Notable in his early musical improvisations were repeated, stuck, desperate, and stabbing sounding attacks on the piano keys. This represented exactly his situation and offence: angry, locked in, stuck, as if he had nowhere to turn. The therapeutic work required orientation to the here and now, rather than unlocking too much past material at once. Nevertheless, Ewan recognized how he could receive rather than reject my non verbal musical support. This elicited a maternal transference. Towards the end of the second assessment session, Ewan rushed from the room, having exclaimed his recognition within our musical improvisation that “you are supporting me! I have not felt like that since I was with my mother.”

The significance of this was central to the therapy as Ewan had been unable to mourn the death of his biological mother. He returned explaining that this experience had “brought a tear to my eye.”

Starting the treatment process

Ewan had never experienced any previous psychological therapy at all, so the same weekly place and time was an entirely new experience for him, which he almost religiously observed. As the therapy progressed, he became more proactive in ensuring that regular physical health appointments were not timetabled to coincide, as nothing had to come between him and his music-making. Over time, as he became more trusting in the continuity of his life and less fearful of sudden abandonment, he gradually extended his range and felt safe to play the piano on his own rather than with me. Ewan began to take responsibility for his own actions rather than remaining over-identified with his own victim self-state.

The mother–child dyad and symbolic musical representations

In session 12, Ewan elucidated on his feelings of stupidity and how he played on these as a childhood strategy. He said he had taken to “acting stupid” whenever he felt threatened by his father. The mother–son relationship was enacted symbolically as a maternal transference developed. The merged relationship that developed between Ewan and his biological mother during childhood was cemented when both mother and son cowered from the violence and physical abuse of the father. This relationship was represented musically in session 2 in which initially Ewan played mournfully on the recorder, copying my choice of instrument, then merging with it and introducing a sensual, rocking rhythmic pulsation which indicated an as yet unconscious underlying erotic transference. The music then became violent and angry as Ewan repeatedly hit a small glockenspiel as if he was a frustrated child waiting for dinner. This had a direct correlation to verbal material in which Ewan described the intimacy and frustrations that he felt with his mother. After this the music became mournful and sad although it finished in a resolved, harmonious fashion.

The index offence: developing victim empathy

In reference to the man who he had killed, Ewan attempted to make an offering in musical terms by sitting at the piano to play a piece which he entitled “Requiem.” At the time this felt sincere but also very sad, as I perceived that Ewan felt very clumsy and inadequate in trying to address such a huge and tragic event. From this state, the first expressions of remorse at the magnitude of his violent act began to emerge. Perhaps the fluctuations between reflecting on his offence and reflecting on his childhood suggested how Ewan was trying to make links in understanding why he had committed his offence.


The individual music therapy was characterized largely by a positive transference. Ewan completed his mourning process in the following two years of group therapy where he discovered how to be part of a “family,” as well as how to feel included and valued by others. He remains in custodial care at a lower level of security. At his care program review as the therapy closed, he described his recovery process in music therapy as “akin to the raising of Lazarus.” This biblical reference to Christ’s greatest miracle probably says at least as much about Ewan’s internal morbid state of loss, including loss of hope prior to engagement in music therapy, as it does about his creativity and ability to express himself and to develop through music therapy in a way which, after ten years of stagnation, he may have felt was miraculous.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012


Play Therapy Dimensions Model book launch

May 24th, 2012 saw the book launch of the Play Therapy Dimensions Model: A Decision-Making Guide for Integrative Play Therapists  by Lorri Yasenik and Ken Gardner, held at Giuseppie’s restaurant in Alberta, Canada.

“It was a well-attended event with wonderful Italian food, wine and a great Jazz band! The focus of the evening was one of celebration of children.”

See the article and photos from the event here:

The Therapeutic Milieu Under Fire

By John Adlam, Anne Aiyegbusi, Pam Kleinot, Anna Motz and Christopher Scanlon, editors of the new volume, The Therapeutic Milieu Under Fire.

What therapy can be offered to people with forensic histories and how might it work? What can we learn about the minds of offenders from observing our own reactions to working with them? How do teams working with dangerous and disturbed people survive? How can organisations themselves become perverse and abusive, and how is it possible to prevent this through reflective practice and team development?

In The Therapeutic Milieu Under Fire, we explore these and other essential questions in forensic work in organisations and institutions. We work with highly complex, disturbed, dangerous and endangered people; trying to keep their thinking alive despite conscious and unconscious assaults on the therapeutic relationships and on the milieu itself.

This book is based on a series of seminars organised by practitioners that promoted psycho-social enquiry into the nature of forensic systems of care and the qualities of their relationship to the excluded outsider.

This book also reflects on this particular historical moment and it movingly describes the impact of the lethal attacks that have been carried out against organisations and institutions that were dedicated to providing care for some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens. It argues powerfully that it can be a false economy to ignore the wealth of accumulated practice-based evidence and to offer, by contrast, so-called evidence-based, technical-rational packages of treatment under the guise of improving access to psychological therapies.

This volume is in the form of a series of psycho-social and ‘groupish’ associations to the theme of the therapeutic milieu under fire. The approach is trans-disciplinary and it offers spaces for conversations between service-users, nurses, social therapists, project workers, housing support workers, probation officers, psychiatrists, social workers, group analysts, psychologists, psychotherapists, managers, civil servants, educators, researchers and the general public (among others) about the changing and complex relationship between troubled individuals and their troubling social, organisational and institutional context.

The contributors all work on the ‘frontline’ in one way or another, many working with marginalised and excluded outsiders at the edges of our exclusive society. This book explores the ways in which these outsiders are offended against and how, in turn, they offend against others, within systems designed both to care for and to contain them. What is the task of the professional caring for a mentally disordered offender? How can they offer security without custody, or care without collusion or detachment? When does ‘care’ become a perversion of ‘control’? Why is thought replaced with action and why might it be so hard for the milieu to replace action with thought? These are some of the central questions that were debated in our one-day seminars, and whose dynamics are explored in this text.

In presenting this range of papers, and the multiple complexities that these authors explore, we hope to enable the reader to come to a better understanding of the ways in which the therapeutic milieu comes under fire from without and within, so that we can think together about how to remain thoughtful and committed to the task while anticipating and responding to these inevitable attacks.

Thinking under fire is essential in this work, and so too is reconstructing our internal and external milieu. The systems-psychodynamic thinking of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and the therapeutic community model combine in contemporary practice to give us a model of the conscious and unconscious processes that inform criminal acting out or the expression of personality disorder: a model that helps us to make sense both of the violence in the patients and the violence in the societal response.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

VIDEO: Choosing the right approach in Play Therapy

In this video, Lorri Yasenik and Ken Gardner explain their Play Therapy Dimensions Model, a decision-making tool that is already being used worldwide.

The Play Therapy Dimensions Model allows play therapists to tailor their approach to the specific needs of the child. Practitioners are encouraged to be engaged and flexible during sessions, adapting their levels of directiveness and consciousness according to the child’s responses. In their new book, featuring written and visual case studies, the authors clearly explain the model, how to use it and the positive therapeutic effects it can have on the child. The book also provides additional support to play therapy practitioners and play therapy supervisors with the inclusion of useful forms that aid therapy planning, conceptualization and evaluation. Click here for more info.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

How to Become a Better Manager in Social Work and Social Care

Book cover: How to Become a Better Manager in Social Work and Social CareTrish Hafford-Letchfield is Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Teaching Fellow in Interprofessional Learning at Middlesex University in the UK, and Les Gallop is an independent consultant and trainer with many years experience in social work, social work management and training.

In this interview they introduce their new book, How to Become a Better Manager in Social Work and Social Care, a researched and practical guide to the fundamental skills and knowledge that a manager needs, underpinned by the values and ethics that are inherent to social work and social care.

This is the first book in the new Essential Skills for Social Work and Social Care Managers series intended to help managers in social work and social care. Can you tell us a bit about the series, the need for it, and what readers can expect from books that are featured within it?

Trish Hafford-Letchfield: There are a lot of good quality books in our field which offer various critiques of management and models for thinking about how to be a better manager. I wanted to think about the actual skills that managers in social work and social care needed, for example, those which help people to practically grapple with the business aspects of management but which also pay attention to and value equally, the need to behave ethically in what can be very demanding environments. Managers that I have worked with in different settings often struggle with keeping up with new developments in management practice and particularly with having the time to think about their own learning and professional development. Becoming skilful as a manager does not always naturally emerge from one’s professional experiences although much of what we learn comes from what we do every day and the opportunity to reflect and consolidate those experiences. However, the need to develop more tailored or specific skills and to be a good manager might come to your attention for the first time when you move into a new management role or make a transition from one management role to another. Managers often acquire responsibility for managing others, without the benefits of formal management training, and they have to combine professional expertise combined with practice ‘know-how’.

This series Essential skills for Social Work and Social Care Managers aims to give front line or aspiring managers access to a practical quality guide to a range of different areas of fundamental management skills; areas that can often be taken for granted. For example, if you are about to go into a recruitment drive, you may want some tailored advice about how to write a job description or person specification, or if you are managing a difficult meeting, what are the quick tips to help you prepare? I hope that these short, handy but well researched guides are particularly tailored for those working in social work and social care environments or any environment with a core business of care.

So, the first book covers everyday skills such as time management, managing conflict and working effectively in partnerships. These are the background skills, so to speak. The second book in the series focuses just on project management and how to manage a project effectively, whether this is large or small. We anticipate further books in the series on skills in effective decision making, acting ethically and commissioning and contracting. I hope that people who have expertise and who are perhaps interested in sharing this with their colleagues as well as meeting the challenge of writing a book will come forward and submit a proposal for the series.

What do you think are the most common challenges for managers in social care?

Les Gallop: This is a question for our times. We live in difficult circumstances, with people in all social work and social care sectors facing uncertain futures. I want though to step back a bit from this and think about other sorts of challenges:

  • Dealing with targets: for many years and under various governments, managers have had to attend to ‘targets’ and all the associated activities, while at the same time recognising that even the neatest spread sheet about performance is not the same as performance itself. I love the quotation from Einstein, told to me by an old friend in management: ‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted’. Someone had better tell the government!
  • Remaining human: a silly thing perhaps, but pressure is relentless for a lot of managers, and it is easy to become jaded. Remaining human and keeping a sense of perspective (and humour!) is a real challenge but so important.
  • Reconciling demands: I have spent some time talking to managers recently about their work, and this challenge of keeping plates spinning, all of which are important plates, keeps them busy from the beginning to the end of most days. I’ve found myself comparing and contrasting it with my experience of management. It seems to me that theirs is a much more demanding world than I remember mine being, brought about in part by the target culture and by the increasing public visibility of social work and social care.

One thing remains, though, through the years: the sense of the sheer importance of social work and social care in any society concerned with inequality and social justice – and the healthy challenges that this brings about ourselves and our work environments.

How do issues for managers in social care differ from those faced by managers in, say, the financial sector?

Les Gallop: I’m sure that there are many overlaps between all sectors, given that management anywhere concerns ensuring that people work towards whatever are the organisation’s goals – I like the idea that the key task of management is to create an environment in which safe and creative work can flourish.

However, I do think that there are real differences between the various work places. In social work and social care, front-line staff are the service – whereas in the financial sector we can separate the person from, for example, the advice that they give. We discuss this in the book, using research by Bowen and Schneider on service organisations. They argued that the ‘products’ of such organisations are largely intangible, and service users will judge them therefore through impressions. A support worker’s performance will for example be judged by a service user partly in relation to their personal qualities. In many situations the act of providing the service and that of receiving it are simultaneous. The service user is an active contributor to this process. The Newly Qualified Social Workers with whom I have recently been working know this very well when a parent refuses to engage in discussion about a child’s well-being.

All of this means that in social work and social care organisations, supervision becomes particularly important. Front-line staff need support, motivation and time to reflect on how they work, along with some monitoring, in order that the vital exchanges between them and service users can be as effective as possible.

What originally spurred your interest in social care management?

Trish Hafford-Letchfield: I fell in love with management theories when I did my first post graduate course in health and social care management in the early 1990s. It was the first time I had been encouraged to reflect on my management practice and think about the specific role I played and my own management style. I always believe that until relatively recently managers in our sector have been much maligned and neglected even though they have a professional practice background. When I went into higher education in 2003, I was asked to teach a module on management and organisations. I found that there was not a lot of diversity in the learning materials for social work and social care managers which meant going to the more traditional sources and adapting and tailoring them for my students. I haven’t looked back since.

Les Gallop: My decision to apply for my first management post had a lot to do with my manager at the time. I had come to appreciate what a difference she made to my work and that of my colleagues, as well as to the people who needed our service. In fact, I still see the first-line manager as the key person in determining the quality of service people receive. She brought a great mixture of challenge and support to her work and had an undying commitment to individual team development. I had supervised a few students and started to get a real buzz from seeing them develop in competence and confidence, and that added to my interest in management.

In terms of writing about social work and social care management, I did some writing for a university Higher Award in Social Work Leadership and Management. I came across Trish then, who was also doing some writing for the course. Students seem to appreciate it, and I realised more than ever how starved so many managers are of opportunities to think about their work. Ever since qualifying and having a positive experience of being managed I have valued opportunities for thinking about my work, and know how much it has helped me. So – when Trish asked if I would like to work with her on this book, I couldn’t say no!

What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as a manager?

Les Gallop: Like all the managers I know, every day brought challenges for me. I suppose it is one of the reasons we do it, in spite of cursing it sometimes!

Perhaps though the biggest challenges are those where we have responsibility but little obvious power. I still feel the nerve ends twitch when I think of a situation where the large organisation I was working in was being divided. I had a lot of responsibility for sorting out how the staff in my service might be divided while not knowing about my own future. In the months of working on this there were a lot of tears. Some people had worked together for some time, and so established working friendships were about to break up. We did not know about whether there would be sufficient posts in the new arrangements to go round, and so individual futures were at risk. When we had little information about the overall plans, rumours would start doing the rounds to fill the gaps.

It strikes me that in these times of public service cutbacks there will be many managers going through similar experiences. I needed a lot of support to help me maintain a ‘public’ face of at least some dignity whilst thinking that this just was not what I had come into management for.

Trish Hafford-Letchfield: I am just about to take on a challenge in my own university where I have recently taken on some administrative roles with some delegated management responsibilities. That has definitely made me anxious about whether I will be able to practice what you preach? I may even have to turn to this book for my own advice!. It’s a scary thought that people may think I am not true to my own espoused values. I have always maintained some sort of management role since entering higher education within the voluntary sector which keeps me in touch with the real world. I hope that I am able to keep learning and that I can support others in doing so.

If you could offer just three pieces of advice to a social work manager wanting to improve their management skills, what would they be?

Les Gallop: I am not often the first in the queue when it comes to offering advice! After all, what might work for me might not work for others and vice versa. However I would, with some hesitation, suggest the following, which probably fits with what I have said above.

In order to develop our skills we need to have and to nurture good support systems, so identify sources of support. This sometimes will be people in similar posts whose views and approach you trust. A life outside work is another source of support.

I think then that I have discovered the simple realisation that we will never be the ‘finished article’. It’s a bit of a cliché perhaps, but a commitment to continuing professional development is what separates effective managers from those going through the motions.

My third thought is about self-awareness, as we argue in the book. We all find ourselves able to do some things better than others, and, given scarce time, managers need to work on those skills that are less developed, as well as honing skills that come a bit more naturally. This is why we wanted to give people a chance to do an audit of skills.

Trish, you have written a number of books, and are now the editor of a series of books for JKP – I imagine the advice on time management must come in useful when balancing a busy academic life with writing projects. How do you get motivated and find the time to write?

Trish Hafford-Letchfield: Yes, a lot of people think that I am a workaholic and do nothing but write every spare minute of the day in order to produce the books I have managed to write. However, many are surprised to find out how many other things I manage to cram into my busy life, including my music and I always consider myself as a bit of a culture vulture given that there is always so much going on in London where I currently live. However, I am a great believer in Forsters principle of ‘do it first every day’ which means that I tend to write in small chunks but I also write very regularly and in a much focused way. First of all, I establish an overall plan in terms of the timescales and tasks required then I work towards that slowly and steadily. I do tend to write my goals down and plan quite well in most areas of work and I also move the goal posts quite a lot but I believe that by aiming high, it allows for a bit of manoeuvre or compromise. For me, a lot of the work is done in the mulling over and reading, which I do on the tube to work, and in the more unlikely places. Writing for me, is a habit and the more you do, the easier it becomes. My advice is that regular focussed action keeps an initiative alive or keeps you engaged with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of extended procrastination, like everyone else but I think it’s healthy to indulge in that, and for me, I need to feel the acute pressure on my time as a result of a good bout of procrastination and then the challenge to get on with it. It’s all about the balance and being honest with yourself. I would say, be kind to yourself and kind to others, we are only human after all!

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

My Journal Journey – An Article by Kate Thompson, author of Therapeutic Journal Writing

Kate Thompson is a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor and Supervisor in private practice, and a professional member of Lapidus UK. In 2010, she wrote Therapeutic Journal Writing as part of the JKP Writing for Personal Development Series.

In this short article, Kate shares her thoughts on process writing and includes some handy notes on writing for yourself and with a group.

My own journey from childhood diary writing in the 1960s to journal therapist in the 21st century has indeed been an almost lifelong process. This journey continues today, propelling me into the modern world of blogs and internet therapy which in some ways is a very natural development from journal writing.

I start from the premise that writing is always both a creative and a therapeutic act. I know that many people, including some of our greatest writers past and present, would agree with me, but others would not. I need to emphasise that therapeutic journal writing (almost a tautology, certainly the opposite of an oxymoron) is about process writing rather than product writing.

I have since childhood been one of those who felt ‘compelled’ to write. But I also want to stress that I am an intermittent journaller. I am full of admiration for those who do write every day but I do not – some of my clients write far more than I do.

[NOTE: Journal writing is sometimes referred to as a discipline or practice. One of the Myths of journal writing is:

“you have to do it every day”

You don’t. Often as possible is good, even five minutes counts, but there is no point in setting up unachievable goals – that way ‘failure’ lies and neither our clients nor ourselves need encourage that.]

So I have journalled on and off through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. It is the way I process experience; it is the way I make sense of the world.

Writing the book was a personal and a professional journey. It is the culmination of more than15 years of professional practice. It brings together my twin passions for therapy and literature (I was a reader before I was a writer; I was a student and teacher of literature before I was a therapist). I wrote this book because this was a book I would have liked when I was training as a counsellor. At that time I had no idea that you could (‘were allowed to’) use journal writing as a therapeutic medium with clients. But I did know that it worked for me so it seemed natural to want to try. This book would have legitimized my instincts and given me the confidence to do it openly. Finding Kathleen Adams and The Center for journal Therapy in Colorado told me I was right.

In fact I’ve had three mentors who have encouraged me and supported me in this work:

Kathleen Adams, Gillie Bolton and Emmy van Deurzen.

I thank you all.

The journal container is big. People who come to my workshops or groups often show surprise about how broad the idea of journal writing is – the range of techniques at our disposal goes far beyond the descriptions of ‘what I did yesterday’. Journals can also include art, quotation and project plans as well as personal written stories or reflection leading to healing and growth.

Feedback forms often contain comments such as:

“I had a very narrow definition of journal writing – I know better now.”

I think my favourite comment on a feedback form is:

“I came with very low expectations – they were exceeded.”

I’m sure he meant it kindly.

There is one therapeutic journal technique which completes the reflective loop and does much to promote the integration of experience. It is a way of giving yourself a little written feedback after any journal entry:

The Feedback Loop

Read through your journal entry and then write a couple of sentences:

E.g. When I read this I notice…

When I read this I feel…

This to me is the key to therapeutic journal writing – I encourage anyone who keeps a journal to employ this technique which really completes the loop and can consolidate the insights and learning – you can try this at home immediately.

I always love to hear how people use journaling for themselves and with others, for personal and professional reasons – please tell me your experiences:

Read Kate Thompson’s Therapeutic Journal Writing Blog »

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

Mastering Social Work Supervision – An Interview with Jane Wonnacott

Jane Wonnacott is Director of In-Trac Training and Consultancy, UK, and is a qualified social worker, independent trainer and consultant. She has a long-standing interest in supervision and has trained social work supervisors across the UK. She co-wrote, with Tony Morrison, the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s guide and training programme for the supervisors of social workers in the first three years of their professional development.

Jane is author of the new book, Mastering Social Work Supervision – the first book in the brand new JKP series, Mastering Social Work Skills, of which she is also the Series Editor.

In this interview, Jane shares her views on the difference good supervision can make for social work practice, and some of the tools she has helped develop to ensure good supervision.

You are the series editor of the brand new JKP Mastering Social Work Skills series and one of the first books to publish within it, Mastering Social Work Supervision. Can you tell us about the series and the need that it is designed to meet?

The series will be written by social workers who spend most of their working life delivering training across the UK and occasionally further afield. They are therefore in touch with many social workers and hear first-hand the challenges of day-to-day practice. The series draws on this experience and is designed to put into an accessible format the materials and ideas we use in this training. These are designed to give social workers the knowledge and tools to undertake what are frequently challenging and complex tasks.

Supervision has been identified as a critical part of good social work by the Social Work Reform Board, Lord Laming and Eileen Munro. Why is supervision so important?

One of the most important reasons is that good supervision can make a real difference to the outcomes for the users of social work services. Social workers are day in, day out working with situations where emotions are running high and the capacity to make positive working relationships with a variety of people is crucial. This combined with the need to have high-level critical thinking skills and make decisions which will frequently have a profound affect on service users lives means that space is needed to reflect on the emotional impact of the work, the way in which emotions might be influencing their analysis of the situation, the decisions they make and the actions they are taking.

Although social work is always likely to cause social workers a level of anxiety, good supervision should assist in managing this anxiety, reducing stress and helping clarity of thought. Good supervision can benefit social workers by encouraging innovative practice, and helping social workers to focus on the value of the job they are doing. Through good supervision, social workers are far more likely to feel safe in their role, motivated in their work and encouraged to develop their practice.

What are some of the qualities that make a good supervisor?

I would say that one of the most important qualities is self-awareness and overall a high level of emotional intelligence. Supervisors need to be aware of the impact they have on their supervisees and how this might influence what is said within supervision. Supervisors need to be genuinely interested in the work of their supervisees and able to motivate and enthuse the people they are working with. It should be pointed out that this is most likely to happen when supervisors receive the right support themselves – something that is too often neglected.

Is there such a thing as being a good supervisee?

Undoubtedly yes! A relationship is a two-way process and supervisees also have a responsibility to participate, and to come prepared and open for an exploration of their practice. Clearly the organisation has a role here in mandating supervision and ensuring that expectations are clear, as does the supervisor in establishing a safe relationship.

Can there be a tension between supervision as a managerial process for monitoring and as an opportunity for staff development and reflection?

There can be, but this book encourages an approach where this should not be the case. The book argues that, starting from a positive expectations perspective, the quality of performance can be and worked with in a positive way. One participant on a course where the functions of supervision had been split commented that there was a danger of “outsourcing reflection” rather than encouraging reflection as part and parcel of day-to-day case management. At the end of the day, supervision (regardless of who the supervisor is) is an authority relationship and the issue is how this authority is used. My view would be that (in most cases) we need to support managers to supervise well rather than impose a structural solution. There will be exceptions, most notably in integrated teams where the manager is not a social worker.

In your opinion, are social workers currently receiving good supervision?

I think the answer must be that it varies, although there have been signs of improvement with many more participants on our courses eager to consider how to deliver supervision, which includes reflection and encourages critical thinking. The worry is that, with the drastic cuts that are having to be made within the public sector, this progress might be reversed with supervisors left feeling too overwhelmed with work. In fact supervising effectively does not need to take more time but supervisors do need emotionally energy and support.

The book features a model developed by yourself and the late Tony Morrison. Can you tell us about how you came to work with Tony and the model you devised?

I should say that the basic model was fundamentally Tony’s, although I have been using it for nearly twenty years and had developed it particularly in relation to the supervision of child protection practice. Tony had always been a major influence on my work and it was a privilege to work closely with him in developing the supervision model for the national training programme commissioned by the Children’s Workforce Development Council. The model (often referred to as the 4x4x4) takes an integrated approach to supervision, locating the functions of supervision within a framework which acknowledges the impact the supervision will have on all the stakeholders. The supervision cycle is the glue which hold the model together, using an understanding of adult learning to integrate a focus on feelings, thoughts and actions. Later developments of the model which are in this book (and not published elsewhere) include the 6 stage cycle which focuses specifically on the supervision of assessment processes.

The book (and others in the series) are grounded in relevant theory, but focus primarily on practice, and feature useful tools and models throughout. Can you talk about some of the other resources which professionals are likely to find useful in their daily work?

We have drawn on several tools which practitioners will be familiar with and looked at how they apply to the topic concerned. For example, in the supervision book we have used genograms and ecomaps and considered how these might support good supervision. One new tool which we have now used extensively in training is a matrix to help social workers and their supervisors identify discrepant information – an issue that has featured in many serious case reviews.

I hope readers will feel re-energised and enthused about the difference good supervision makes, as well as having some practical tools to help them in the job.

Finally, can you share with us your most positive experience of supervision?

One of the reasons that I am so convinced about the importance of supervision is the experience I had as a trainee social worker over thirty years ago. My supervisor was absolutely committed to social work, genuinely interested in me and how I was developing, challenged me when needed and encouraged me to try out new ways of working. At times I might have taken a few (manageable) risks, but it was a from a safe secure base. I think it was the combination of a supervisor who was motivated herself and able to motivate and encourage others that made the diference.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011.