“Two minds are better than one,” – so the saying goes. Peer supervision is one way of making this truth operational.
Discussing a case with colleagues in an open and reflective way can yield untold dividends for us and the young people we work with.
But what does it take to put this into practice?
None of us would say we know it all. But equally, we none of us want to look like we don’t know enough. This is the main blocker to effective peer supervision.
Recently, I’ve twice been in situations where very complex cases have been brought to a group forum for discussion. On both occasions two key things happened:
1. I heard things from others that helped me in my understanding of how to help the young person more effectively.
2. I said things that helped others in their understanding.
How do I know that I helped? Because people said so. “I had’t thought of that…” I just need to write that down…” etc.
If we are unwilling to be vulnerable with our colleagues and peers, we neither learn nor contribute to the learning of others. Herein lies the rub.
[callout]Ask yourself, “Am I willing to run the risk of embarrassment in order to learn and in order to help?”[/callout]
The truth is that we are highly unlikely to be embarrassed. Not least because others are worried about the same thing! Taking this small step of offering a view or asking for help opens up a legion of possibilities.
Here are just a few:
- Affirmation – The opportunity to have our views affirmed, validated and appreciated by others
- Assistance – The possibility of helping a young person find progress or resolution, through helping a colleague
- Acquisition – of knowledge. The chance to enhance and broaden our own knowledge and practice base by hearing from others
- Acceleration – of problem-solving. A more speedy end to difficulties without having to soldier on alone
- Appreciation – The joy of encouraging others by being appreciative of their help, advice and expertise
Releasing all of this is really quite easy. The trick is adopting the right attitude and then taking action:
- Attitude – basically we have to be humble. Humble enough to give our opinion, to hear those of others and to be open to learning from both. “Oh, what the heck…?” is really quite a good stance to take. Who cares if we look a bit daft? We probably won’t. The biggest “risk” we run is that of learning, resolving and making progress on cases that need it
[callout]”…there’s nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility…” William Shakespeare – Henry V[/callout]
Action – we just have to trigger the process by doing one of two very simple things: offering or asking for advice. It’s that simple. Think of it as a way of opening a door, behind which lies the answer to the situation we are facing.
Our colleagues are probably our greatest and most accessible resource. We contribute to that pool of knowledge and expertise. Surely tapping into all of this is worth the risk of some slight embarrassment?…
What do you think?…
- How good are you at asking for advice from others?
- What’s hindered or helped you in this?…
Please let me know what your thoughts are… Leave a comment below or click here.
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© Jonny Matthew 2014