Massage Peer Supervision

Peer Supervision defined by Webster is to oversee, direct or manage. The term supervision makes me think of a supervisor in a business setting who just sits back and tells me what to do.
The type of supervision I am talking about comes from other medical professions such as psychology, social work and nursing. The goal of supervision is to increase awareness and on-going self awareness of the therapist. Supervision is all about the therapist and whatever they need to become what they want to be!   The more support we can get as therapists, the more support we can give to clients.

Supervision could make your work life more satisfying by helping you understand stumbling blocks that get in your way and by giving you support where you need it, for instance, with setting limits, trusting your intuition or appreciating your assets. Good Supervision can give you confidence and free you up to do your best work ~ Nina McIntosh, Educated Heart

Supervisors are usually senior massage therapists who specialize in working with issues related to the therapeutic relationship that occurs in our practices. This is done through listening to how the therapist feels about whatever is going on in their practice.  It does not mean that the supervisor is going to tell you what to do!  The goal of supervision is to have the supervisor mirror what is going on in the therapist with the intent of having the therapist learn for themselves what it is they need to do in their practice. This is done through the process of active listening. During the process, the therapist may ask for the supervisors opinion knowing that is just that – their opinion.
Individual supervision is a one-on-one relationship where the therapist hires a supervisor. A commitment to meeting regularly is needed to build the relationship and work to find the core issues that the therapist is struggling with. Some common issues to work on are boundaries, transference and counter-transference, projections and specific details of practice. Working on an individual basis, the therapist gets the exclusive attention of the supervisor.


Some definitions of supervision:

‘A formal process of professional support and learning which enables individual practitioners to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance consumer protection and safety of care in complex clinical situations. It is central to the process of learning and to the scope of the expansion of practice and should be seen as a means of encouraging self-assessment and analytical and reflective skills’ (Vision for the future 1993). ]
Butterworth & Faugier (1992) said supervision refers to a range of strategies, including: ‘preceptorship, mentorship, supervision of qualified practice, peer review and the maintenance of identified professional standards’ and was: ‘both a personal and professional experience’.
Swain (1995) differentiates supervision in contrast to more well-known procedures: ‘(supervision is)…not psychotherapy or counseling…nor is it directive management, individual performance review or staff appraisal. It is not a form of disciplinary procedure…it is not any of those things which some nurses seem to fear it might be or could be used for’.

When to use Supervision

  • Dealing with challenging clients such as those that are controlling, demanding or difficult to deal with.
  • Feeling like you are drained after working with clients.
  • Feeling sexually attracted to clients
  • Feeling bored or uninterested in your work.  Falling asleep yourself while giving massage.
  • Feeling resentful of clients or your job or your massage practice.