I view professional supervision as an essential and exciting field both within and beyond the church, so I was delighted to commence the Graduate Diploma in Supervision with Jesuit College of Spirituality (JCS) in 2017, to support my role at that time as a teacher and formator of spiritual directors at JCS. After taking a break to begin PhD study, in 2021 I re-enrolled in the new University of Divinity program in Professional Supervision, to complete my Graduate Diploma. Having been a student of the University in various awards since 2009, I feel very at home here, and I was confident in the excellence of this new course.
My experience this year of completing two units in the new Professional Supervision program has exceeded my expectations. I have been personally and professionally challenged, in a supportive learning environment. The experience has reaffirmed my love of supervision and expanded my understanding of its nature and importance. I have also enjoyed coming together with students who were formerly enrolled in the Stirling College course, and sharing the learning journey with them.
I enjoyed studying online, which helped me to accommodate this course alongside my PhD study and other commitments. Our learning was well-supported, with resources available through ARK, and the units incorporated creative learning activities. Within the constraints of the online format, my cohort of students formed strong relationships. Studying online also enabled some of us to collaborate as a project team on two assignments.
The teaching staff are warm, caring and creative in their approach. I particularly appreciated that they encouraged us to be creative, and that they valued us as experienced professionals. There was definitely a sense that we were co-creating knowledge in this developing field. I particularly enjoyed Claire Malengret’s inspiring lectures on ethical maturity and practice. Her engaging presentations encouraged us to think differently about ethics, while providing us with practical tools for ethical reflection. Claire’s experience in counselling and mental health added an important dimension to the course.
Without a doubt the highlight of the program, which I have now completed, was collaborating with three other students on our final assignments for the two units I studied this year. The first project, for the unit Advanced Professional Supervision, focused on “voice” in supervision, which we explored through a group conversation using the Transforming Experience Framework (a key element of the course) and a creative film featuring artistic input from each of us. For the second project, in the unit Work of the Professional Supervisor, we created a podcast in which we invited three experienced supervisors to reflect on whether and how supervision in ministry contexts is both professional and pastoral.
Without Dr Cath McKinney’s encouragement to be creative and work collaboratively, we might not have taken this leap into a different way of approaching assignments!
My biggest challenge was ensuring that my study in this program did not detract from my primary commitment to my PhD study. I was able to manage this, in part because of the particular stage I was at in my PhD study (data collection).
Having now completed my supervision course with the University of Divinity, my main post-study goal is to build my practice as a supervisor, and to develop areas of expertise, including in the area of spiritual direction supervision.
To anyone thinking of studying Professional Supervision – consider your desired field of practice, and evaluate course options accordingly.
I believe that this course provides an excellent grounding in professional supervision, and connects students into the growing community of supervisors in ministry contexts. Formation does not stop once we have completed the course, and we need to continue to seek out opportunities for development in line with our particular areas of practice.
I would like to reiterate how much I have enjoyed participating in two of the new professional supervision units offered by the University of Divinity. I love the emphasis in the Professional Supervision program on growing a vibrant community of practice, and I look forward to being part of it in the years to come.