Reflective Supervision as Trauma Informed Practice

Reflective supervision is an approach that supports various models of relationship-based service delivery. The approach includes regular meetings, a collaborative relational approach, and an emphasis on reflection. Reflective supervision can be used across disciplines, systems of care and service models for children and families (Heffron and Murch, 2010)

The ultimate goal of reflective practice is to improve the quality of services for children and their families. Often providers are faced with trauma of the families they work with and this trauma can trigger their own pain and suffering. The experience the provider brings to the relationship can get in the way of working effectively with families unless there is a venue to explore, understand, and distill the negative or difficult emotions elicited from the work (Shahmoon Shannok,2009)

On June 17, 2011 more than 130 professionals from child welfare, behavioral health, education, and public health came together to learn about reflective supervision and why it must be an essential component of a trauma informed service system for children.

The half-day session opened with remarks from Arthur Evans, PhD, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services in the City of Philadelphia. Dr. Evans acknowledged the prevalence and importance of addressing vicarious trauma (VT), which is the is result of exposure to trauma experienced by others, generally within a workplace. He went on to support reflective supervision as an antedote to VT and outlined resources that his department has already committed toward building professional capacity for both trauma informed practice and relfective supervision. Click here to watch a video of Dr. Evans was followed by keynote speaker, Rebecca Shamoon Shanok,LCSW, PhD. Dr. Shanok is an internationally recognized expert on infant mental health, reflective practice and reflective supervision. Dr. Shamoon Shanok described the development of reflective supervision, and explained why it is essential as a component of quality services for vulnerable children and families. Dr. Shamoon Shanok then demonstrated a brief reflective supervision session.