2015 Conference

Towards a Values-led Spirituality of Supervision

Over 60 people returned to the lovely surroundings of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham for the 6th annual conference, this time in early September.
Michael Carroll treated us to a fascinating and inspirational key note address – a “smorgasbord” of thoughts on supervision – as he phrased it. From Leonardo Da Vinci’s repeated instruction to young artists to “to look and look again” at the subject they were trying to paint, Michael Carroll led us to reconsider the keystone of supervision – reflection. He highlighted some key features of reflection;

  • Uncertainty – “When we are certain we stop learning”.
  • Pausing – American Indian wisdom says when you’re lost in the forest, don’t rush around searching for the path, but stand still and listen to the ground.
  • Suspending judgement – “We judge ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions”.

He also looked at some obstacles to reflection;

  • Drawing from his personal experience he showed the difficulty of reflecting by ourselves without merely recycling our existing patterns of beliefs and attitudes.
  • Fear is the enemy of reflection – “When fear enters the room, learning goes out the door”.

He then went on look at spirituality in supervision, anchored in compassion and empathy, and worked out in relationship.

The afternoon started with 3 short presentations on research projects in pastoral supervision by Dr Elizabeth Mann and Revd Richard Burge, Rabbi Markus Lange, Revd Ruth Craig.

This was then followed by “table talk”. Here there were several tables, each with a facilitator to host a discussion on a specific topic. Participants joined a conversation and stayed for the duration or moved on to another as they wished. The topics were;

  1. The Supervisory Relationship: Development and Change over time, hosted by Elizabeth Mann and Richard Burge
  2. Faith in supervision, hosted by Sue Clements-Jewery & Ruth Dormandy
  3. Supervision in palliative care, hosted by Peter Wells
  4. Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Supervision, hosted by Lynette Harborne
  5. Explorations in non-verbal communication in group supervision, hosted by Markus Lange
  6. Innovation in practice in pastoral supervision, hosted by Ruth Craig

Accreditation Secretary, Maureen King and Chair of the Panel of Assessors, Diane Clutterbuck were on hand to answer any questions regarding accreditation.
The Retreat Association, St Luke’s Care for Clergy, and Oxygen Insurance had stands. There was also a market place where participants could post publicity material.
As usual, lunch and break times were filled with animated conversations and exchanges of backgrounds and views etc. From the feedback received, participants clearly valued the opportunity to meet with others engaged in pastoral supervision and enjoyed the buzz.