As many of you already know, tele-supervision extends beyond individual, one-on-one sessions and can also include dyads or groups. And for all the reasons individual tele-supervision is successful, research published by Paulson, Casile & Jones (2015) supports the idea that online group models, especially serving rural areas, are just as necessary to fill the needs of providing support and networking, while also delivering opportunities for professional and personal development.
As a supervisor, running a group online can require a little more work to maintain everyone’s engagement though, as moderators compete with digital attention grabbers like Instagram and Facebook feeds, email notifications, texts alerts and even other people in a member’s home environment.
Aside from the basics of closing out all non-essential browser tabs, setting one’s phone on silent, and making sure members are in spaces free of distraction and noise, we asked some of our Motivo group supervisors how they manage to keep their groups present, interested and involved! Check out the great advice below.
Dr. Gina Gagen, LPC-S, is a licensed professional counselor- supervisor who holds credentials in three states – Colorado, Texas and Virginia. She currently runs a supervision group on Motivo that has been growing in attendance and will include 5 members by the end of the month. She loves providing a group online through Motivo because of its simplicity of use. “We are all able to meet from the comfort of our homes,” she says. “It allows people to share stories from all over Texas – and even with other states!”
“We are all able to meet from the comfort of our homes,” she says. “It allows people to share stories from all over Texas – and even with other states!”
As an experienced supervisor, Dr. Gagen suggests using a round table approach and asking thought-provoking questions to keep group members engaged. “We generally start with one person sharing an experience that happened since the last meeting. I then ask questions such as, “What other approaches may have worked in this situation?’”
She also recommends a strengths-based approach, as she makes a point to do a lot of confidence building in the room.
Lori Kimmerly, an LMFT powerhouse with credentials in seven (!!!) states throughout the western half of the country (Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Utah) moderates a biweekly group for LMFTs. There are currently three members in her group.
Lori finds implementing a mix of light structure with organic discussion works to keep people engaged online. “We always cover safety and ethical issues up front and then move on to specific case discussions,” she says of how she structures her groups.
“Although I express my thoughts, almost always the group members will engage each other and wonder what others think as well … the chemistry seems to work well the majority of the time.”
Keri Scribner, an LPC and Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) in Virginia, runs a mixed online/ in-person supervision group, offering accessibility to those who can’t necessarily join in-person. The group currently consists of 10 LPC residents, with one off-site member who joins the group through a laptop facing the group.
Keri runs two supervision meetings per month. Discussions vary from month-to-month depending on the topic. She finds that taking care of practical and logistical set-up (for example, can everyone see and hear each other clearly) helps facilitate members staying engaged and present throughout the discussion.
In summary, maintaining structure, employing the use of round robin discussions that involve all the members, asking thought-provoking questions and letting group chemistry do it’s thing are all ways to ensure supervisors are running effective, enriching groups online.
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