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A Practical Guide to Transformative Supervision for the Helping Professions

Author: Nicki Weld
Published By: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (London)
Pages: 144
Price: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 84905 254 2

Reviewed by Caroline Clarke.

I found this clearly written book an excellent resource which would be of value not only to those who provide supervision, but also to those who are seeking it, and wanting to know how to improve the supervision they give or receive. It is written for people who supervise in “the helping professions” – the author is a highly experienced social worker and supervisor, based in New Zealand. My belief is that those of us who are in ministry need regular supervision just as much as social workers, nurses, counsellors and therapists. For them it is mandatory - it should be for us, too.

The particular focus of this book is on the ‘transformative’ work that can take place within supervision, which is described as “designed to promote development” and “lasting positive change”, rather than simply “overseeing practice”.  In each chapter, Nicki Weld helpfully sets out clearly the main point she will be making, and provides a summing up at the end, and throughout there are excellent practical examples and tools for supervision.

Although the book is not written from a specifically Christian perspective, there is a recognition of the spiritual aspect of the work done by anyone who seeks to provide help and support to their fellow human beings. Nicki Weld has experience of Palliative Care which gives her an insight into some of the pastoral work ministers are called to do. In the chapter on the Importance of Openness, she writes of the need to pay attention “on an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level to what I want to bring and to what may be being brought” to supervision, and she gives the lovely image of the supervisor being like “a rock in a busy stream - steady, unfazed, present and stable.”  There are excellent chapters on Working with Emotion and Exploring Intuition, and in another chapter she writes openly of her own experience of depression. Her final chapter is on Supervisors as Leaders - “Leadership should be about aiming beyond ourselves and always for the betterment of others” - helping change how people think about things can bring the transformation which is the focus of this book.

Anyone wanting a book on supervision more directly linked to Christian Ministry might like to read Pastoral Supervision: A Handbook by Jane Leach and Michael Paterson (SCM Press, 2010; £18.99; ISBN 978 0 334 04325 6)

Caroline Clarke

Hon Asst Curate at Holy Trinity Church Clapham
(Chaplain & Spiritual Care Lead at Trinity Hospice 2003-2011

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You are reading Issue 56 of Ministry Today, published in November 2012.

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