Observations should be on-going. At least one observation per month is suggested. In some agencies, the supervisor may reserve the right to “drop in” at any time to observe counselor performance. There is some value in an unannounced observation. It is suggested that this type observation occur only after a period in which the counselor has experienced observation and has an opportunity to prepare. Counselors who feel comfortable in their relationship with their supervisor will not feel threatened by unannounced observations.
The results of the rating form coupled with the observation equals a learning plan. While a learning plan can be completed from the rating forms only or an observation only, the combination of both will provide the greatest opportunity to assess areas of excellence and challenge.
STEPS in the Observation of counselors:
Meet with each counselor to discuss the observation, it's purpose and how it will occur.
If the observation is "in person" and you will be sitting in on the counselor's group, individual session or other counseling work, explain your role in the process. While there may be opportunities for co-therapy, the counselor should be aware if you plan to interact in the group process.
While some clinical supervisors prefer to interact in the group process, this should be discussed and determined prior to the observation.
If the counselor's work is to be audio or video taped, there is a requirement that the client involved sign release documents. These procedural tasks should be completed well in advance of the observation date. All HIPPA requirements should be discussed and met.
The supervisor and counselor should decide what is to be observed. Criteria for observation should be developed so that it is understood what is to be evaluated in the observation.
While the supervisor should write comments on everything observed in the session, particular attention should be paid to those areas agreed upon prior to the observation.
The counselor and supervisor should agree upon the length of the observation. Often a brief observation is preferable to sitting through the whole group. The supervisor may prefer to see the beginning, the process section or the closing of the group.
The role of the supervisor is to take detailed notes.
Feedback should include detail and should follow the ORAL method.
Feedback should closely follow the observation. If possible, provide brief feedback on the day of the observation and schedule a supervisory interview to provide detailed information from the observation.
If audio or video taping occurs, the supervisor may choose to review the tape prior to meeting with the counselor. There is also value in viewing the tape together.