Pastoral Supervision Research
Research into the benefits of supervision is demonstrating powerful effects for supervisees.
In many different contexts churches are expressing concern about ministerial wellbeing and are asking questions about how to improve clergy resilience.
Research into supervision in the Methodist Church in Britain has found that supervising is providing a quality of care on behalf of the Church that is helping ministers to feel more connected and held at a deeper level and a quality of attention through its disciplined and structured approach to intentional time:
- “Confidential sharing lifts a heaviness that normally is carried on your daily routine.”
- “I think I would say it has probably improved my mental health and my resilience, given my ability to fester. Because I am not festering so much and that has made a difference.”
In changing missional contexts throughout the world churches are asking questions about how to help their leaders stay proactive and energized and develop new models of church and mission that are responsive to today’s needs. Research suggests that clergy who are learning feel more competent and motivated.
Research into supervision in the Methodist Church in Britain has found that supervising is providing a skilled place in which complexity and difficult feelings can be borne and disentangled to allow ministers to find and exercise their agency, and a means of learning support that allows insight to become embedded practice:
- “I’ve been always energised at the end of a supervision session even if it’s been something really difficult. When we obviously haven’t come to a solution but its felt there are possibilities to explore and that energises me and I think that’s what energises me when I work as a supervisor.”
- “The time I would have spent reflecting (on my own) was used in a way that bore far more fruit.”
- “It allows me a safe space to reflect on where the ministry is going; potentially be challenged in the ways that I am working.”
Many churches and other organisations are needing to face the uncomfortable fact that our systems of oversight have not safeguarded children and vulnerable adults well enough, nor helped the church to be a place that points with integrity to the flourishing that Jesus promises.
Research into supervision in the Methodist Church in Britain has found that supervising is providing an accountable space in which ministers are feeling supported in monitoring and managing situations of risk, and a supportive place in which being held and being accountable go together:
- “I feared the [supervision] policy was about protecting our backs. My experience has been actually it’s not been about that. It’s enabled us to be a safer place and enabled safer practice.”
- “It’s not an ‘Oh no are you checking up on me?’ kind of accountability. It’s a positive accountability that I think has the capacity to engender positive feelings of confidence.”
- “I made a more secure intervention concerning a proposed exorcism than otherwise I would have done.”