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Individual and group supervision available

My Philosophy of Supervision/Consultation

By Patti Swope R.N., L.M.F.T., Certified EFT Therapist and Supervisor

My philosophy for supervision follows the EFT model as it incorporates person-centered, experiential, humanistic, constructivist, and systems therapy, and is fundamentally grounded in attachment theory. By staying in the model, I seek a relationship with my supervisees’ that parallels EFT clinical practice.

The research article “Supervising Emotionally Focused Therapists: A Systematic Research-Based Model” by Palmer-Olsen, Gold and Woolley (2011) guides my practice and fits my supervisory style. According to Palmer-Olsen, the four main supervisory goals are:


1) Co-creating and maintaining a secure supervisory alliance.


2) Insuring theoretical grounding in attachment theory and the EFT steps and stages.


3) Insuring supervisees’ ability to deepen and regulate clients’ emotions and facilitate bonding processes.


4) Insuring supervisees’ ability to regulate and use their own emotional processes in therapy.

In addition, six themes must be incorporated into the supervision to achieve these goals. The first one, “secure supervisory alliance” is the most important. I create a safe environment by being aware of how I am coming across to the therapist. I am open, encouraging and supportive. I am transparent in sharing EFT struggles I have had. I am cautious about the amount and type of critical feedback I give and I give more positive feedback and reassurance. I want the supervision experience to be collaborative. I am not the expert. If I find myself becoming reactive I know it is because I have not fully understood my supervisee’s behavior.

For seasoned therapists, I am attuned to the anxiety and shame of being in a position of not knowing. I make sure the supervisee knows that I view them as competent and experienced. I do frequent “check ins” with all of my supervisees about the supervision process and invite them to tell me if I am doing something that doesn’t make them feel safe or isn’t working. I tell supervisees that I want to know because I am learning too and I want to make sure they get what they need.

The second theme, “the self as the therapist and emotion regulation” is also part of my supervisory style. When I review a supervisee’s video and I am seeing an intense moment I try to check in with the supervisee to find out what that was like for him or her. If the supervisee is hesitant, I will share how the couple is impacting me as I watch the video. I want my supervisees to share their personal reactions during stressful times with clients and have it be okay. If I am watching a video and it appears that the supervisee is aligning more with one partner I will ask, “what is happening for you? I see you are yielding more to…?” and process what is going on for the supervisee emotionally and what, if any of the supervisee’s attachment needs are getting triggered.

The third theme, “modeling and practicing EFT interventions” helps facilitate learning by getting the supervisee more immersed in the moment. I do this by limiting the amount of time the supervisee spends on case presentation and redirecting them to spend more time on role-plays and practicing. When I’m watching video I’ll have the supervisee stop the video and I’ll say, “this is what I might say here and I’ll have the supervisee practice saying what fits for him or her.” I’ll jump into role-playing the therapist when the supervisee is describing what the client is saying. This way the therapist can experience what it is like being that client, and have more empathy and understanding of the clients attachment needs and experience trust in the efficacy of the EFT interventions. Or I’ll sit next to the supervisee during a role-play and model what to say when the supervisee gets stuck. During role-plays I facilitate processing the impact on everyone involved. Role-plays are crucial in learning EFT because the supervisee experiences seeing the EFT intervention in action and how it feels. The experiential in the moment process helps to drive the learning home.

Palmer-Olsen’s fourth theme, “live and recorded session review with specific positive and corrective feedback” can be anxiety-inducing for the supervisee and takes a lot of courage. I acknowledge the supervisee’s vulnerability and I do my best to be reassuring. I try to check in with the supervisee each time they show a video and not assume they are just getting accustomed to the process over time. During group supervision I use the group to normalize the difficulty of showing a video and monitor and stop too much critical feedback. I encourage more positive feedback. If the supervisee says I should of done something else here I’ll say, “what would you rather do now” then just jumping in and saying what I think.

The fifth theme, “utilizing the EFT workbook and creating connections” fits with my understanding that we learn via three modes: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Most people depend on just one or two and not all three. Because we learn best using all three, I encourage my supervisees to use all three modes. I inform supervisees’ about resources that relates to what they are trying to learn. I recommend articles, DVD’s, books, the workbook and casebook, going to the ICEEFT website and newsletter, YouTube clips, Sue’s talk on blog talk radio, newspaper articles, podcasts and even the EFT hand dance that is being developed. I want learning EFT to be fun.

Palmer-Olsen reports that the sixth theme, “goal-setting and evaluation”, needs to be structured and clearly defined for the supervisee. When I first meet with a supervisee we collaboratively develop goals based on where the supervisee is in their understanding of the EFT model. Before the supervisee starts with a case I’ll ask, “what do you need help with?” and “what step do you think you are in?” I will have the supervisee stop the video and ask how he or she is conceptualizing that moment to assess the supervisee’s understanding of the EFT model. In addition, I encourage the supervisee to show me video of the follow up session to see if he or she is incorporating the feedback given from the previous supervision session. If the supervisee is not incorporating the feedback I explore what is blocking the supervisee from doing that; whether I am not understanding what the supervisee needs, I am not coming across concretely enough or if something is going on with supervisee.

I have found two tools helpful for clearly defining and structuring goals and I have started giving them to my supervisees. The first is the “Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples Therapist Fidelity Scale” as a guide for core competencies. The second tool, Scott Woolley’s, “Three levels of developing EFT mastery for the supervisee” to assess where the supervisee is in the learning process. The three levels of acquisition are conceptual, perceptual and behavioral. Once the different levels are defined to the supervisee, he or she can assign a percentage of acquisition for each level periodically during their learning process.

EFT is a sophisticated, nuanced and complex model to learn. As such, it is important that the supervisee have landmarks to give a sense of competency so as to not be discouraged. Learning EFT is demanding emotionally, time intensive and expensive. It is crucial that the supervisee has a supervisor that can safely hold the supervisee through the learning EFT process. EFT is a brilliant model. It fits with my values and beliefs and I am excited that the EFT supervision model is isomorphic to the practice of EFT.


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