Session 8: Reflective Practice and Supervision
By the end of this session you should be able to:
- Appreciate and describe some of the power dynamics involved in pastoral care and explore how to stay safe
Describe different models of reflective practice and choose one that suits you
Consider different ways in which God interacts with us, causing us to listen and how we might block them
Consider a spirituality of supervision, and some examples of where to find out more
Reflect for a moment on the pastoral care you have received and the pastoral care you have given over the past week. Bring this before God with thanks for those who God has used to touch you and those God has used you to touch.
Ask God to open your eyes to new ways of giving and receiving pastoral care as you work through this session.
For this exercise you will need the document called ‘Thinking Back on Pastoral Care’ from the Resources section below. Once you have printed it off (or copied the headings into your Reflective Journal), look back over the last three or four weeks, and pull together a list of the pastoral care you have given to others. Then think about what was motivating you at the time and choose just one of the three feelings listed, whichever was the most powerful motivator. Please answer with as much honesty and integrity as you can – this is not about making a judgement, but about noticing the interplay between feelings, actions and power. Then note down in your journal:
1) What do you notice about your motivation in each case? 2) Are there any patterns that show up either in terms of actions or people?
3) What kind of things might happen to you if you continue to give pastoral care in these ways?
The Drama Triangle
The Drama triangle (Karpman 1968) derived from Transactional Analysis (Berne 968) can help identify negative patterns in relationship of unequal power. Christians sometimes find themselves caught up in this without realising the power dynamics and how they are being affected, especially when they are attempting to offer Christian love, help and support to others.
Without meaning to, or perhaps, without being aware of the impact of our actions, even with the motivation to help another person our actions can contribute to the other person feeling like a victim, in need of rescue, or in need of improvement, all of which can only happen because of your intervention.
None of us stay in one place on this triangle – we move around it. Think of, and note down, a time when you recognise you have been in each of the three positions:
A time when I was a victim (I felt powerless):
A time when I was a rescuer (I needed to feel useful):
A time when I was a persecutor (I needed to control):
Susanne Jegge gives some examples which might help us here:
As a teacher giving private tuition I used to enter in the Rescuer’s role when I made more efforts than some of my students. I always prepared more materiel devoting more time than they did. According to their role as a Victim, the students remained passive. When I saw their passivity and lack of motivation, I got inwardly angry and told them off becoming a Persecutor.
Can you identify a similar situation at your workplace that corresponds to the Drama Triangle?
In our minds
We play inside of our heads all the time and every day without even noticing. Our inner dialogue shifts from one role to the other: “Silly me! How stupid of me!” (Persecutor) because we made a mistake, we feel guilty or incompetent (Victim) and we make excuses or discount the consequences (Rescuer) to avoid disagreeable emotions.
© Copyright Susanne Jegge, 2019
The Winner's Triangle
Acey Choy’s article “The Winner’s Triangle” (1990) offers a model for change in attitudes an behaviour which enables us as pastoral carers to make a shift from being caught up in a drama triangle, into a more positive place of a winner’s triangle.
When we recognise ourselves being drawn into the triangle of care there are some questions we might ask ourselves, for example
“Am I entering into this pastoral care situation in the role of Rescuer?”
When we have to make a decision or to reply to somebody, first ask these 5 questions. Then answer honestly with YES or NO to each one of them:
Q1 do I want to get involved?
Q2 is it my business?
Q3 can I do what I am being asked for?
Q4 do I have a clear request from them?
Q5 will I end up doing less than 50%?
Finally count the number of NOs.
With 2 or more NOs, ideally DON’T DO ANYTHING, so as to avoid the Drama Triangle. If I decide to take action nevertheless, I will enter the Drama Triangle in the Rescuer’s role and finish as a Victim.
Apply this to a situation you have experienced recently – if you had used this tool at the time, would the outcome or level of your involvement in the care have been any different?
The Spirituality of Supervision
Draw a picture that helps you understand the word “supervision”.
Listen to and/or watch this presentation on supervision by Ian Harris of the University of Essex (supporting notes are available on youtube if you would prefer to read).
As you watch, note down your thoughts and reactions to the explanation on supervision, including any questions/ issues it may raise.
Supervision in Practice for Pastoral Carers
Take a look at these “Ps” (adapted from Pete Scazzero “A spirituality of supervision” (2017)
Person – how are you? How are things with your soul?
Prayer – How is your spiritual formation being nurtured?
Plans – what pastoral care are you involved with?
Priorities – for the day, the week, the longer term
Puzzles – questions that you have
Praise – gratitude and celebration
Which of these would you be comfortable and confident in answering with another person? There are no right or wrong answers – this is for you to reflect on your own preferences.
Lamdin and Tilley “Supporting New Ministers in the Local Church” (SPCK 2007) offer a preparation sheet which can be summarised as a set of “I” statements
I need help or a decision about
I am having a problem with
I am planning to
I have made progress with
I am feeling
I would like prayer for
Which of these would you be comfortable and confident in answering with another person? Again, there are no right or wrong answers – this is for you to reflect on your own preferences.
There are three keys here – one is to have supervision in place; the second is to prepare for supervision before the meeting, and the third is to take place in supervision.
- What opportunities can you identify to enter into supervision?
- What difficulties or obstacles might be identified?
Share some of your thoughts in the Forum
Spotlight on Doctrine
Think for a minute about the Apostle's Creed. What statement in that creed do you think the contents of this session best fit into and why?
Spotlight on Spirituality
In the light of your reflections on session one, what are you most thankful for? What have you found difficult or challenging? Write or draw just ONE word or image that will help you in your journey with God at this time?
Spotlight on A Safer Church
With what you already know about promoting a safer church, what are the main issues you have identified this week in order to be safe when involved with pastoral care? Make a note in your learning journal for discussion on the Study Day.
What has particularly struck you in this session?
Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into pastoral care and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, all things come from you:
from you come our life, this world and all that we have and are.
Help us to love one another as you have loved us.
Blessed are you, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
To Do in Church This Week
Ask those in leadership roles in your church about their experience of supervision. Reflect on their answers in the light of this session. Does anything surprise you?
Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum.
Thinking Back on Pastoral Care
The 6 Ps of Pastoral Care
Supervison Preparation Sheet