Supervision or Mentoring: What a Difference a Word Can Make

I was reading a post on my social media earlier this week written by a fellow music therapist talking about the need for assistance with a situation. The post ended with a phrase that started me thinking about various and sundry things - it coincided with my long overnight sojourn at work as well. I had nothing to do but to think about what this person said.
"I feel like what I really need is a Music Therapy mentor."
When I read that statement, I was able to understand what the author meant. I have never really felt all that comfortable with the idea of "supervision" as many music therapists seem to view the practice. I feel that any type of "supervision" has to include direct observation and in-time feedback about what is happening in the session. I do not feel adequately "supervised" by my current administrators because they do not watch me do my job - unless I have one of my once-every-three-year evaluations. I feel that I "supervise" my interns because I am watching what they are doing, but when we sit down to talk about their sessions, I never call that "supervision." It's "consultation" in my training program.

When the author posted this comment about seeking a mentor, I was able to understand completely what was meant by the statement. Someone to talk to, to problem-solve with, to bounce ideas off of, to interact with completely outside of the clinical setting but who could help come up with strategies for clinical interactions. I get that. For me, that is what most folks mean when they say, "supervision."

There is something about the word, "supervision," that gets stuck in my head and makes me have a strange reaction. This is very true for me, especially when the word is brought up in a manner that makes it seem like "supervision" is synonymous with counseling or therapy. Strange, isn't it? I resist the idea of "supervision," but I feel very comfortable with the concept of "mentoring."

I would like to be a mentor. I would like to have a mentor. I could do something with mentorship.

I do not want to be a supervisor of someone that I cannot see do music therapy. I do not want to be supervised by someone who does not want to see me do music therapy. I do not think that supervision (the way many people seem to define it) is for me.

This may seem like a petty little thing to some, but it is something that is a big deal to me. The words that we use for various practices make an impact on me - both positive and negative impacts. I am sure that there are others who have the same sort of reactions - possibly with different words or terminology, possibly with the same words.

Hey, if you are looking for a supervisor, please don't call me. If you want a mentor, I might be okay in that role. Send me an email, and we'll talk.

Happy Saturday.


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