- Editorial NoteFace to Face Versus Clinical Online Supervision
IN A RECENT CONVERSATION WITH A LICENSED CLINICAL-SOCIAL-WORK colleague, Gretchen Finke, we had an opportunity to discuss how the field of sexology has evolved and how there should be additional consideration of how supervision is conducted. We talked about some of the strengths and weaknesses of conducting supervision sessions online (e.g., via skype, Facetime, or other social media platform) versus face-to-face. Both of us asserted that we are "old school" and try to follow the traditional path of meeting with supervisees face to face rather than online but we try to remain fl exible to the needs of supervisees. Sometimes it is impossible to meet in person because of time, geographic distance, or circumstance and so virtual meetings may be the only option.
I did not share this with Ms. Finke but I am concerned about how our field is shifting to using more virtual connections rather than face to face forms of therapy and supervision. I can't imagine that all clinical sessions would be done online but it feels as if I should consider reflecting upon how our field is changing.
There is a tremendous value in sitting across from a client while he/she is in our therapeutic space and being able to observe and interpret his/her body language in real time. Sure, this can be done virtually but I believe that when mental health therapy is conducted in person, the therapist/supervisor and client/supervisee are able to develop an intuitiveness and anticipation that cannot be captured through a computer screen. Yes, I confess to being somewhat of a romanticist who believes that connections and secure attachments are better served in person. This intuitiveness and anticipation in real time is possibly the same experience that our clients/supervisees experience when they are with their partners and families. For example, if you have ever spent a significant amount of time with someone and you know the [End Page vii] person well enough to complete his/her sentences based upon your knowledge of his/her background then that may be a product of your intuition as well as anticipation. I believe that nonverbal interactions are interpreted differently online rather than in person because you can only see what the other wants you to see using the camera on their computer, tablet, or smart-phone. In contrast, when therapists meet with clients and supervisors meet with supervisees in person, all parties can observe EVERYTHING. Perhaps the intuition and anticipation emerges from the vulnerability that is exhibited when meeting face to face and having the opportunity to experience the client/supervisee in totality.
Professional organizations and clinicians should continue to discuss the evolution of how therapy is conducted, the interpretations of face to face and online modalities, and the implications of engaging with supervisees and clients. I'm also curious about how one's culture may impact clinical experiences online and the efficacy of goal attainment.
While we did not discuss clinical modalities at the ABSC 2017 Spring Round Table Series in St. Thomas, we had a wonderful time sharing our work and how it affects various communities. Perhaps the greatest "gift" that is given at ABSC events is participants' ability to share their personal narrative and how they decided to conduct their research presented. Storytelling at our conferences serves as a powerful tool for engagement, feedback, and growth. Time and space are allotted to conference participants to share their authenticity and feel "safe." This was probably our best conference because participants took a chance to be vulnerable with one another during and after each presentation. I can't imagine this kind of personal investment and engagement happening in a virtual circumstance. Hopefully, we will see you in St. Thomas in 2018 for our next Spring Roundtable Series. [End Page viii]