Fiona Griffith – Clinical Counsellor, Accredited Supervisor & Educator

Fiona Griffith
Clinical Counsellor, Accredited Supervisor & Educator

BA, Dip Ed, MSS (counselling),
Dip Clinical Hypnosis
PACFA reg Clinical, PACFA Vic Branch,
PACFA College of Counselling,
PACFA College of Supervision.

I’m a clinical counsellor, supervisor and educator based in Central Victoria.

I’m a Clinical member of PACFA* (Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia) and an accredited PACFA supervisor.

As a Clinical member of PACFA*  I enjoyed having an active role in their College of Counselling Leadership Group from 2016-2021.

From 2017-2021,  I was delighted to be a board member of the Australasian Association of Supervision and took the role of secretary for that time.

In 2023, I was pleased to join the new PACFA College of Supervision.

All counselling, supervision and reflective practice services are delivered online using online video link (OVL) via the Zoom platform.

Counselling in the 21st century

I believe it is essential that counselling include cyberspace as a working element. Without this acknowledgement we miss a large part of what now influences most of our clients’ lives.

The digital revolution has brought with it many brilliant advances in communication and easy access to knowledge. The catalysing nature of the COVID 19 restrictions forced our profession to seriously implement digital counselling delivery and this has revealed some surprising paradigm shifts. Many clients experience increased agency due to feeling safer in their own familiar environment and the influence of the Online disinhibition effect (ODE). Who would have thought that working in video link could not only be more therapeutically effective for many clients, but also that we in the helping professions may have unconsciously reduced our client’s agency by working with them in our consulting rooms! Many agencies are reporting that they are now engaging with clients online who have been very difficult to create relationship with in the past. So the inclusivity of a client centered approach can be further enabled by technology.

The digital space is different, rather than second rate, to working with a client in person and has both benefits and challenges. Therapists need to ethically and practically assess client suitability for counselling online and set up contracting for client safety, as well as have a proficiency in using the technology and it’s many functions.

Online life is here to stay and a big part of everyday life.

We need to support our young clients in navigating this new horizon with awareness, resilience and confidence: knowing when to unplug and when to plug-in. Distinguishing between in real/physical life and online activity. Online anonymity provides an open canvas for experimenting with behaviours and personas, this is often helpful to developing personalities, but the internet is not a guide to life and boundaries can be mercurial in Cyberspace.

Some disowned or disallowed parts of personality, which contribute to our sense of self, can often be more safely expressed in the digital space and are a rich resource for building a stronger sense of who we are and where we fit in the world. Bridging the resources that can be accessed online with our real or in-person life in the physical world, and vice versa, is an exciting new area for all clients to explore.

After all the listening I do, I take great pleasure in getting back into balance by writing and delivering interactive workshops designed for professionals, schools and the general public. I authored and currently facilitate How to provide counselling and psychotherapy using online technologies for PACFA as continuing professional development for therapists.

In line with my views above concerning our growing life in cyberspace, I am delighted to announce a new series of ONLINE professional development masterclasses called The Well Grounded Counsellor, with the first theme entitled Bringing Cyberspace into the Therapeutic Space.

Read more about my Well-Grounded Counsellor Masterclasses here.

Read an article by Fiona: Counselling – Recognising our profession in its own right

More About Fiona

* PACFA – Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia

PACFA Website

What is Counselling?

At various times in your life you may encounter grief, loss, trauma, relationship issues, circumstances that bring about fear, confusion and helplessness. Turning to friends and family for support is a common response and often successful. However in some circumstances this doesn’t work or is not useful. You may find yourself unable to resolve these things and they interfere with the normal functioning of your life, resulting in ongoing distress.

You’re not crazy – you just need support from someone who is interested and believes in your ability to work it through.

Counselling is a secure relationship and safe space that allows for speaking the unspoken. The counsellor creates clear boundaries so you can say and feel whatever you need to in order to find a deeper understanding of yourself and the situation.

Professional Counselling is a collaboration between an individual, couple or group and a counselling practitioner.

The counsellor is an agent of change and the client an active participant.

Change, which may be opening to new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, is enabled through the development of this safe and secure relationship.

More About Counselling

How I Work

Supervision – Why do Counsellors & Supervisors need it?

“We need to be continually learning… supported and held in staying open… Developing our personal capacity… We need the open honesty of our colleagues constantly to attend how we each fall into illusion, delusion and collusion in our work and develop our ethical capacity to respond to complexity… Quality work cannot be sustained alone”
Robin Shohet, Passionate Supervision

I am a PACFA* accredited Clinical Supervisor.

Supervision is the ‘seat belt’ of good practice. It holds you in securely and we all know how important that secure attachment is! Who would be without it?

The supervision I have received over the years keeps me in touch with my own humility, my capacity for growth both professionally and personally and trust in myself and my client’s capabilities. It has also given me a sense of safety and support whenever I need it.

A supervisor is someone who ‘gets’ the work you do,
you are not alone!

I believe supervision is a mutual working alliance where the practitioner gets to reflect on and review their work in a respectful safe space, receiving feedback , support and if needed, guidance.

It is a space where the higher levels of ethical thinking can be explored and the practitioner’s own blind spots can become visible.

An effective supervisor is one who helps you to work out where to look, but doesn’t tell you what to see

I’ve trained with Robin Shohet and Joan Wilmot (Supervision in the Helping Professions, Passionate Supervision), Michael Carroll (On Being a supervisee, Effective Supervision, Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions), Bob Cooke (Manchester Institute of Psychotherapy) and Valerie Redman (Redman Institute, South Australia). They have all helped me shape my own supervision style from when supervision was in its infancy in Australia.

I hold supervision to be an essential element in developing and maintaining a high quality counselling & supervision practice. Without it we can put ourselves and our clients and supervisees at risk of our own fears, reactivity and ethical blind spots.

Without it we are lacking the support we need and deserve while practicing in such an intimate and intense environment.

* PACFA – Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia

PACFA Website

More About Supervision

Reflective Practice for Professionals: 21st century Supervision for Schools

This page speaks about how supervision can be applied into schools. The need for supervision of school counsellors (known as ‘Clinical Supervision’) is relatively well understood. For many years now, I have provided supervision services to school counsellors and wellbeing coordinators in schools.

Over this time I have come to believe that the supervision process that I deliver can be taken further into an educational setting and applied to enhance the professional capability of individual teachers and in turn raise the status of the teaching profession.

Depending upon your vintage, the term ‘supervision’ can evoke many different recollections for a teacher. Some may have experienced supervision as a persecutory and corrective process.

Trained professional counsellors have an entirely different experience of supervision. Clinical Supervision for a counsellor has as its goal gaining insight and understanding into what the counsellor brings to the therapeutic relationship.  I believe that this supervision process can be transferred to other professions, particularly teaching.

In teaching, supervision has mainly been for the pre-service and/or beginning teacher, with the major focus (rightly) on what to deliver and how to teach. Yet there is an additional and very important element of successful teaching – the establishment and maintenance of relationship with students.

This aspect is often presumed to be an innate skill or talent and is subject to less emphasis in teacher training than content and procedural pedagogical knowledge. But it is such a potent ingredient that its deliberate cultivation should not be overlooked.

When a teacher develops insight into their own reactions to students and situations, they can adapt and modify what they do and how they behave and consciously respond rather than simply react to the situation they are presented with.

This is exactly what creates a safe learning environment for the student and a healthy work environment for the teacher. It also extends to a healthier collegial environment within the teaching team, school management and to the wider school community.

The core of this form of supervision is known as Reflective Practice.

Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice requires thinking about how you carry out your professional work. Exploring your perceptions, judgements, beliefs, emotional reactions and responses to others and how this relates to your sense of self.  It encourages critical thinking around decisions and interventions made. It allows deliberation on what has been done and enables learning from experience.

Reflective Practice is essential in the helping professions because they are founded upon safe interpersonal relationships, where the professional plays a major part in how those relationships are built, maintained, and mended when broken. In Reflective Practice the professional explores both what is happening for them personally (intra-psychic experience) and also what is transacted between them and others (inter-psychic experiences).

For a teacher, the concept of Reflective Practice in Supervision is separate from the understanding of pedagogy, procedures and pursuit of knowledge in subject areas.

Reflective Practice in Supervision requires you to explore what you bring to teaching that comes from your understanding of your sense of self and your identity as an educator.

The Safe Container

Reflective Practice can only take place from within a safe container, where trust has been established. A successful relationship between supervisor and supervisee requires this safe container for Reflective Practice to be effective.

We now commonly accept that in a safe relationship and safe environment, students build capacity to learn to their best ability, able to take risks and tolerate the stress of uncertainty that learning requires. The same applies to adult learning and professional development, including for teachers.

Where trust has been established, supervision becomes:

  • a safe container;
  • a quiet soft place to fall into: supportive, caring, creative;
  • an intentional adult learning environment aimed at advancing interpersonal competencies;
  • a place where participants can actively participate, empower and validate one another, be mutually reflective, gently challenged, and receive useful feedback;
  • a professional alliance, focused on the participants’ professional work, role and self-care, in a protected scheduled time slot, independent of the workplace.

As mentioned, the need for (Clinical) Supervision of school counsellors is relatively well understood. All school counsellors have a duty of care to undertake supervision, and management have a duty of care to support their supervision.

Beyond Counselling in Schools – a New Supervision Initiative

Beyond the Clinical Supervision of School Counsellors, Reflective Practice can also support emerging, proficient, highly accomplished and lead teachers, as well as education leaders.

Unlike executive coaching, which is goal-oriented, Reflective Practice in Supervision is an ongoing process undertaken between supervisor and supervisee that focuses on how to create safe and effective connection and communication with students, parents and colleagues.

Over time, the application of Reflective Practice in Supervision will enhance and develop the use of self in the art of teaching.

Enhancing the use of self in the art of teaching will exert a positive influence across all the pedagogical, procedural and subject knowledge a teacher gathers over their career, and contribute to an increasing quality of professional teaching delivery, with the end result being that students’ learning outcomes are also enhanced.

The knowledge and content delivery of education is very much in place; teachers’ wellbeing and insight is what needs attention now.

Reflective Practice, its outcomes and benefits, are not explicitly addressed in the APST/VIT standards. The standards comprehensively articulate the major areas for acquisition and exchange of knowledge and techniques. However they make no explicit mention of intra-psychic processes and their influence on quality of delivery, perhaps because these are more internal and subjective, rather than objective concepts.

Reflective Practice is really a meta skill that applies uniformly across all parts of the standard. It is an ongoing process with the individual teacher gaining insight into how they bring themselves into the application of the standards.

I strongly believe that Reflective Practice in Supervision will be of great benefit to the profession of teaching.

Reflective Practice in Supervision offers a way for individual professionals to grasp and grow personal agency, confidence, resilience, professional efficacy, professional and personal insight.

Growing these qualities in their professional work will result in increased parental and community respect for teachers – not because they should respect teachers, but because they will observe the mastery and confidence of the profession, as it delivers increased positive student outcomes and success.

Read on for more details about:

Clinical Supervision, which is specifically for school counsellors and Wellbeing teams.

The possibilities for implementing the concept of Reflective Practice as a 21st century mode of professional development and professional self-care for individual Teachers.

Professional Development and Wellbeing Workshops

I design and facilitate workshops for professionals, parents and students

This balances my counselling work and enables me to support my belief in the value of nurturing the counselling community..

It is an extension of, and based on, my clinical practice and embodies my love of learning. The training also draws on my experience lecturing and teaching counselling theory and practice.

Effective workshops rely on ‘walking the talk’, relating theory to my own practice. I get to know the material on an even deeper level.

These workshops are interactive and embrace the elements of adult education and invite experiential learning: connecting theory with practice. They draw on the experience of professionals in the room. The workshops also invite open discussion on the appropriate application of theory and its adaptation in an imperfect world.

It is also a chance to connect and network, something those in private practice particularly enjoy. An important goal is that participants leave the workshop with some new perspectives to reflect on and new tools to use.

The workshops are attended by a range of people in the helping professions, from counsellors, psychologists, mental health OTs, and social workers, through to teachers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists.

For students in secondary schools I have also created workshops which are based on “The OK Zone”. This concept I have developed out of trauma theory, and focuses on elements of wellbeing, core sense of self, resilience, stress management and good sleep habits.

Some workshops are suitable for members of the public, parents and those who work in caring roles or volunteers.

Workshops can be commissioned around particular topics or applications of theory and that suit the needs of your organisation.

Professional Development Workshops