Supervision for Speech Pathologists
Participating in clinical supervision is an important part of being a certified practising Speech Pathologist in Australia. Whether you’re just getting started as a new graduate Speech Pathologist, or you’re curious to learn more about what you should be expecting from clinical supervision in your current role, we’re here to help.
In today’s article we’ll be taking a look at the clinical supervision requirements laid out by Speech Pathology Australia, as well as the different options available for clinical supervision. Here at SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we offer our team a variety of clinical supervision including 1:1 supervision, group supervision, peer supervision, and external supervision where necessary. We’ll explore each of these clinical supervision options so that you can figure out what you’d like more of in your current or future role.
What are the Supervision Requirements for Speech Pathologists in Australia?
Clinical Supervision for Speech Pathologists is a requirement in Australia, as it is outlined in both the Professional Standards and Code of Ethics documents that guide our profession. Clinical Supervision is given this importance due to its impact on our ability to achieve reflective practice and contribute towards lifelong learning.
When it comes to the numbers, in order to remain a certified practising Speech Pathologist in Australia, you’ll need to undertake a minimum of 2 hours of professional support each year. This support may include supervision.
For provisional CPSP members, they must complete 12 hours of supervision and/or mentoring before they’re able to complete their transition to full certified CPSP status.
As for new grads and early career speechies? While there aren’t firm regulations around how often they should receive supervision, it is generally recommended that they receive more support than the minimum requirements. At SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we give our new graduate clinicians one hour of one-on-one supervision each week.
Even if you have been a Speech Pathologist for many years, taking part in supervision above the required minimum hours can be beneficial to your clinical practice and to your wellbeing. Supervision can be particularly helpful when working in a new practice area, starting a new role in a new workplace, or when supporting clients with complex and/or novel needs.
Employment Agreements + Clinical Supervision
When starting a new role, it’s crucial to spend some time looking over the Clinical Supervision outlined so you know what you’re signing up for. If you don’t feel as though enough time has been allocated to internal Clinical Supervision, use this time before you sign the contract to negotiate a budget for External Supervision if you feel it would be valuable to you.
Typically, a Speech Pathologist employment agreement should include specific details about Clinical Supervision arrangements including:
- What type(s) of supervision will be provided
- How often supervision will take place
- How supervision will be scheduled (can you add more sessions when needed?)
- How and if external supervision opportunities are provided
- How external supervision costs will be covered
- What will be done if supervision is required between arranged session times
- How is confidentiality ensured within the supervision session
- How supervision will be recorded and structured
Who Can Provide Clinical Supervision to a Speech Pathologist?
While there are no formal registrations or training that you’ll need to complete to provide Clinical Supervision, Speech Pathology Australia recommends that all supervisors have the knowledge and experience necessary to support another Speech Pathologist in their area of practice, age of service users and work sector. For a more detailed outline of the standards Clinical Supervisors are expected to meet, take a look at the Position Statement available on the Speech Pathology Australia website.
What is Covered in 1:1 Supervision?
Clinical Supervision taking place between one supervisor and one Speech Pathologist is often referred to as 1:1 or one-on-one supervision. This type of Clinical Supervision is collaborative, clinician-driven, and is usually formalised in some way with written agreements, goals, and documentation related to the supervision session and individual clinician progress.
At SpeechEase, our early career Speech Pathologists receive 1:1 clinical supervision sessions once per week. This is a formalised supervision structure that’s booked into their calendars in advance, and the time is used to discuss everything from client cases they need guidance with through to career goals. After settling into the profession (about 2 years in), early career Speech Pathologists generally reduce their supervision hours to fortnightly sessions. As clinicians gain more experience and become senior Speech Pathologists, supervision is typically done on a monthly basis.
What is Peer Supervision?
Peer Supervision is another form of Clinical Supervision for Speech Pathologists that involves two Speech Pathologists who work within the same area of practice who have similar levels of experience and knowledge. This informal supervision generally revolves around problem-solving and decision-making, where the two Speech Pathologists work together to discuss and overcome any clinical challenges they may be facing.
The benefits of Peer Supervision include sharing of knowledge between team members, reciprocal learning, reflection, shared experiences, and professional insight. Questions that a clinician may otherwise hold back from asking may be brought up during Peer Supervision where they may feel more comfortable and understood by their peer.
At SpeechEase, our team have the opportunity to take part in peer supervision up to three times per week. It really comes down to the individual therapists, their caseloads, any clinical challenges they may be facing or what learning goals they have.
What is Group Supervision?
Group Supervision is another type of Clinical Supervision for Speech Pathologists that is often quite popular when discussing areas of practice or specific elements of our work, like therapeutic approaches. In smaller group sessions, Speech Pathologists may meet in person with their Clinical Supervisor who will lead the discussion and provide a summary of key points after the session. For larger groups, or teams split across multiple locations, Group Supervision may take place over video conferencing software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Because we have three Speech Pathology clinics across Queensland, our Group Supervision sessions mostly take place over Zoom. We host our Group Supervision sessions once a month, and internally we refer to them as our ‘Develop and Grow’ sessions. The team gather to discuss specific cases that they are finding challenging, Professional Development programs they’ve attended and what they learned, as well as what’s been working well for them.
Our Group Supervision sessions are coordinated and run by our incredible Team Experience, Wellness and Development Lead, Kate Walsh. Kate has over 20 years of experience in the Speech Pathology field and is bursting with knowledge and empathy for the clinicians she leads. We’re so lucky to have her on the team!
What is External Supervision?
External Supervision is the final type of Clinical Supervision for Speech Pathologists we’ll be discussing today, and as you may have guessed, this Supervision usually takes place with someone external to the Speech Pathologist’s workplace. Sometimes this form of Clinical Supervision will be the only option for a Speech Pathologist if there is no capacity or available Senior Clinicians who can provide supervision.
However, what we find particularly valuable here at SpeechEase, is the occasional External Supervision session to help gain clarity and direction in particularly challenging situations. Let’s say for example that you’ve tried a few therapy / clinical approaches to support a client, but you are still experiencing difficulties. Your existing supervisor might recommend researching external providers with expertise in the area of practice you’re having difficulties in, and from there, tee up a session or two to help you get back on track.
A recent example of when we’ve done this at SpeechEase is when one of our therapists did 1:1 external supervision with Rebecca Reinking from Adventures in Speech Pathology to further develop her knowledge and skills in articulation intervention and implementation to better support her complex artic kiddos!
We hope you’ve found this guide to Clinical Supervision for Speech Pathologists helpful. Finding a workplace that prioritises your continued professional growth and wellbeing can make a huge difference in your Speech Pathology career. To find out more about creating a Speech Pathology career you love, look at our other blogs on the topic over here.