“There is always room to grow and learn as a supervisor”: Q & A with Una Majmudar

Una Majmudar, MSW, LCSW, IMH-E® is clinical director in the Division of Children, Youth, and Families, at The Health Federation of Philadelphia. She co-created the module Hand in Hand: Joining Administrative, Clinical, and Reflective Supervision Roles with Brandy Fox, LCSW, IECMH-E®, director of cross-sector IECMH initiatives for the Pennsylvania Key. In this Q & A, Majmudar shares her top takeaways from the module and reflects on what drew her to a career in infant and early childhood mental health.

Who is the main audience for your module? Who might benefit from enrolling?

Una Majmudar

Una Majmudar: This module was designed for supervisors who are balancing multiple roles. It will best suit supervisors who have some working knowledge of reflective supervision or who are already providing some reflective supervision. The goal of this module is to help them effectively integrate reflective tasks with other administrative or clinical tasks.

This module will also appeal to those who are looking to enhance their supervisory skills by adding reflective supervision. Program directors can benefit from this module by gaining insights that will make them better equipped to supervise and support managers who are balancing multiple roles. Our goal for this module is to challenge participants to think about the importance of reflection in all aspects of supervision.

What realizations did you have while building the content for this module?

The process of building this module made me reflect on so many things, including gratitude. I am profoundly grateful to those who developed reflective supervision and to those who have mentored me over the years and continue to do so. I am grateful that I work for an organization that believes deeply in the professional development of their staff. 

I remember interviewing for my first job out of graduate school, and I was reminded that the supervision you receive will be the most important aspect of your job. I hope that one day,  reflective supervision will be available for all providers in the infant and early childhood mental health field because it is absolutely best practice. The work we do is deeply meaningful and impactful. We “hold” so many infants, young children, and their families “in mind.” As supervisors, we are holding our supervisees in mind also. The notion of being held in mind by another, as described so eloquently by Jeree Paul, is the essence of our work. May we all do it with great care for those we hold—and for ourselves.    

I especially want to honor the memory of one of the pioneers of reflective supervision, Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok, LCSW, PhD (1943-2020). Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of participating in many trainings and workshops facilitated by Rebecca. She has left a lasting impression on me as a clinician and supervisor. I will forever be grateful for her gentle, humble mentorship of myself and others in this field. You will see Rebecca highlighted in several videos in this module, and I hope you will feel the same way.  

What drew you to social work as a career and to work with young children in particular?

Why do we do the work that we do? That is always a question that involves a lot of reflection! I started my social work career working with teenagers in a residential setting and I always wondered about their early years. Graduate school confirmed for me that attachment and child-parent relationships were where I wanted to focus my career. Ultimately, my passion for Infant Mental Health clinical work really took off when I had opportunities through work to attend Zero to Three conferences. I learned about the work of Alicia Lieberman, who developed child-parent psychotherapy. 

There is something very special about witnessing the intimacy of a child-parent relationship and about supporting the dyad as they navigate and learn about each other. I am always humbled to be given the opportunity to hear stories and support journeys that promote healing. Impacting how a young child experiences the world and the relationships around them is by far the best investment we can make for our future. Sometimes that means helping to heal intergenerational traumatic experiences, and sometimes it’s as simple as supporting a family as they move into their first stable home.

What are the top three takeaways that you hope participants learn from your module?

First, reflective practice is the foundation of all aspects of supervision. Second, no matter where we are in our professional lifespan, getting support through reflective supervision or peer reflective supervision is crucial. Third, there is always room to grow and learn as a supervisor. We hope you find that spot where you can push yourself beyond your comfort zone.  

Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share?

I’d like to say to participants that I hope this module is just a beginning for you. I hope that those who embark on this learning find themselves curious and able to be vulnerable. Doing this work is hard, challenging, rewarding, and healing all at the same time. Learning is a lifelong process during which we must be willing to reflect on ourselves, our work, our relationships. Always remember that as Jeree Pawl wrote, “How you are is as important as what you do.” Good luck, and have fun!

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