Reflective Supervision/Consultation (RSC) is a professional approach often utilized amongst the infant and early childhood (IEC) workforce that seeks to strengthen parent/caregiver-to-child relationships through a co-created process between an IEC professional and their supervisor/consultant/mentor.
The goal of RSC is to cultivate a reflective alliance within the supervisory or mentoring relationship whereby the professional is seen, heard, and understood.
The reflective alliance is achieved through ongoing reflection, collaboration, and established regularity. This nurtured stance is mirrored by the IEC professional within the context of their practice to promote the growth and development of the baby, the caregiver, and the professional.
Every professional supporting babies, young children, caregivers, and families deserves and benefits from a collaborative and consultative reflective relationship.
RSC has the capacity to facilitate social justice work through the practice of curiosity, self-awareness, and exploration of the parallel process. RSC provides a space to identify bias, increase cultural humility, and to explore the ways in which power, privilege, and systems of oppression impact both the reflective alliance and the work with young children and families.
VAIMH applicants and endorsees who provide direct services to infants, toddlers, young children and their families, and/or provide reflective supervision receive regular, ongoing RSC support by qualified Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsed (IECMH) providers of reflective supervision/consultation through collaborative discussion using emotions to explore the network of relationships surrounding the applicant/endorsee and his/her clients. This is achieved by integrating knowledge about an infant or young child's development with an understanding of the parent's or caregiver's needs.
Through shared exploration of the parallel process, attention to all relationships is explored (practitioner and supervisor | practitioner and parent | and between the parent and the infant/young child). It is important to have an understanding of how each of these relationships affects the others and the self-reflective process is strengthened by the supervisor/consultant's ability to listen and wait, allowing the supervisee to discover solutions, concepts, and perceptions on their own.
For most I/ECMH applicants and endorsees, the receipt of reflective supervision/consultation is required for initial endorsement, and for annual endorsement renewal. While Family Associates (FA), Mental Health Mentor-Policy (MHM-P), and Mental Health Mentor-Research/Faculty are not required to receive RSC, it is strongly recommended and encouraged as it often leads to professional and personal development within one's discipline by attending to the emotional content of the work and how reactions to that content can affect the work.
I/ECMH Reflective Supervision is different from administrative or clinical supervision, and must be received by a qualified Endorsed Reflective Supervisor in order to count towards Endorsement requirements. (See table below.)
The primary objectives of RSC include:
The formation of a trusting relationship between the RSC provider and I/ECMH applicants/endorsees.
A place where RSC Providers and I/ECMH applicants/endorsees can feel safe addressing 'power differentials', not only when the individuals involved come from the same or a similar racial or cultural background, but especially when the Provider is from a dominant culture, and the supervisees are not.
A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) encourages professionals to deepen their commitment to these values and proactively take action to address racial bias.
The opportunity to engage in discussion about an infant, parent/caregiver, and emerging relationships and be held in a safe, confidential space;
The application of new knowledge to an applicant/endorsees work culture in which peer staff members are "reflective partners" for each other. (This leads to a greater ability to contain thoughts and feelings about evocative experiences knowing they will have an opportunity to explore these experiences in a supportive environment during their regularly scheduled RS/C sessions.)
Exploration of the parallel process and time allowed for personal reflection.
A greater understanding of how personal biases and beliefs can affect the parallel process.
The RIOS Framework
The Reflective Interaction Observation Scale (RIOS™) was developed at the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) to identify the extent to which a supervisory or consultation session demonstrates a reflective process grounded in infant mental health theory and principles. The RIOS is aligned with the competencies of the Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® supported by the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.
The RIOS identifies ways that reflective supervision is different from administrative supervision and other forms of relationship-based professional development, such as coaching, mentoring, and traditional clinical supervision.
The 5 Essential Elements are:
Understanding the Family Story
Holding the Baby/Child in mind
Professional use of Self
The first 4 elements focus on the content of the supervisory session and are evidenced by five distinctive reflective processes employed by the supervisor and supervisee during group or individual RSC.
The 5 Collaborative Tasks are:
The last element, Reflective Alliance, describes the ways in which the supervisor and supervisee's interactions are unique to reflective supervision in infant and early childhood mental health practice.
Reflective Supervision & The Endorsement Process
I/ECMH applicants/endorsees receive their required hours of RSC from a qualified Endorsed provider: Family Reflective Supervisor (FRS), Mental Health Specialist (MHS),or Mental Health Mentor-Clinical
(MHM-C) as outlined below.
Receives RSC from
Family Associate N/A (recommended) N/A (recommended) (FRS or MHM-C)
Family Specialist 24 hours N/A 12/2023 (FRS or MHM-C)
12 hrs. 12/2024 onward
*Family Reflective Supervisor 24 hours N/A 12/2023 (FRS or MHM-C)
12 hrs. 12/2024 onward
*Mental Health Specialist 50 hours N/A 12/2023 (MHS or MHM-C)
12 hrs. 12/2024 onward
*Mental Health Mentor-Clinical 50 hours 12 hrs. (MHM-C) (10 hrs. if Endorsed 3+ years)
Mental Health Mentor-Policy N/A (recommended) N/A (recommended) (MHM-C)
Mental Health Mentor-R/F N/A (recommended) N/A (recommended) (MHM-C)
*All providers of RSC will need to document the receipt of 12 hours of RS in 2023.
Virginia's Reflective Supervisor Registry
(Approved Providers of RS/C)
VAIMH RS Provider
Can Provide RS To:
Dee Holland-Brock, MA
Shannon O'Neill, MS
Juliana Weaver, MA
Melinda Whitehurst, Ed.S.
Diana Bermudez, Ph.D.
Jessica Brickey, LCSW
IMHS | ECMHM-C
Debbie Coleman, LCSW
Tamara Coyle, LCSW
Naomi Grinney, LCSW
Sandra Triveri, LPC
IMHS | ECMHM-C
Judith Martens, LCSW