Work and Family: Work and Family as an Issue of Discussion in Clinical Supervision in Finland

Heli Aaltonen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific


22.03Work and family as an issue of discussion in clinical supervision in FinlandHeli InkinenÅbo Akademi University, Turku, FinlandIs it possible to speak about work and family issues in the clinical supervision process in Finland?Several training materials (see Keskiluopa 2015; Keskinen et al. 2005) for the education of theclinical supervisors seem to guide the supervisors into the direction that the focus of supervisionshould quite strictly be at work issues only. However, the majority of the supervision clients inFinland are women and come from social and health sectors and from the Evangelical LutheranChurch of Finland. According to Rikala (2013), female workforce is often extremely “burdened”and would need all possible support, what is. Despite structural changes in the work conditions,clinical supervision would be an important tool.In addition to studying training materials, I utilised crowdsourcing and asked in 2016 in threeclosed social media groups from both supervisors and clients, whether it is possible to speakabout challenging work and family combination and other life issues during supervision sessions.One of these social media groups was formed by female pastors in the Evangelical LutheranChurch of Finland and the other two groups contained clinical supervisors and members of theSupervisors’ Association of Finland (STOry). I have analysed this oral history (see Fingerrooset al.) kind of material with the method of content analysis. In addition to these materials, Ihave utilised parts of my wider research about Gender and Coaching/Clinical Supervision andmy own experience as a supervisor to research  Work and Family as an issue of discussion in clinical supervision.

My question for the female pastors’ group concerned the issue of how to combine work – oftenwithout working hours – and family. I also inquired their opinion as to whether it should bepossible to speak about these matters in the clinical supervision. These questions resulted in 23answers or comments from 16 female pastors. According to their responses, they were married,single, divorced or in a relationship, and with or without children. I organised the answersaccording to the contents into four groups: 1. Success and development stories, 2. Failure andsurvival stories, 3. Family expectations and work community, 4. Clinical supervision.The supervisors’ group provided 36 answers or comments from 22 supervisors (17 womenand 5 men). I asked them whether it is possible to speak about work and family issues in theirsupervision sessions. According to the contents, I organised the answers into five groups: 1.Open policy, 2. Connection to the work, 3. Distinction between therapy and supervision, 4. Strictpolicy (only work issues), 5. Own experiences as a supervision client.The praxis shows that a majority of the supervisors allow issues like work and family combinationand other life in the supervision process. It also seems that the largest client group, women, canspeak about family and other issues and not only about work during the supervision processes.The doctoral theses conducted by Aija Koivu (2013) and Maj-Lis Kärkkäinen (2013) show thatthe hard shift work of the health care sector, where women consitute a majority of the workforce,leads now and then to sick leaves and burn outs. To prevent them, it would be useful thatthe clinical supervisors could actively express that there is a possibility to openly discuss thechallenges of how to combine work and family and other life. While training supervisors, theseissues should be included into the study programme. It could also be possible to develop familycentred and open clinical supervision.Suomala (2014) pointed out in her research that the unofficial atmosphere is not always infavour of a woman and family friendly work place. The laws have enabled different kind ofleaves and part time working possibilities for parents of small children. However, the managersor colleagues can express their negative attitudes towards parents trying to use them. Gendersensitive supervising processes could encourage work places to be more woman and family friendly.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationWORK2017. Work and Labour in the Digital Future 16-18 August 2017. Abstracts.
PublisherUniversity of Turku
ISBN (Print)978-951-29-6882-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
EventWORK2017 - WORK2017
Duration: 16 Aug 201718 Aug 2017




  • Clinical Supervision
  • Gender research
  • Work life research

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