Supervision….How it Works

Who needs Supervision ?

Supervision is for accredited counsellors and psychotherapists, pre-accredited therapists and students undergoing training courses in professional counselling and psychotherapy. Supervision is also available to professionals in the related fields of social work, community work, social care and mental health professionals.

Why Have Supervision ?

The primary goal of supervision is to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy/counselling and other psychological interventions through the growth of the therapist/worker and the development of their skills.
Supervision also protects against burnout and stress. Burnout comes from being overloaded and the onset of ‘compassion fatigue’. So supervision is a restorative process to replenish emotional energy through debriefing and emotional containment.

It is a space to discuss difficulties, both their own and their clients, without fear of disapproval or judgement. It also acts as a container for the supervisee’s own doubts and distress and a space for them to be explored.

The Role of the Supervisee

Like with a client, ground rules are established and lines of responsibility clarified regarding how a supervisee prepares for a session; ensure client needs are addressed; look at the therapeutic relationship; provide constructive feedback and appropriate self disclosure. And to recognise when personal issues are intruding on the work or unfinished business with a previous client.

The Role of the Supervisor

The supervisor’s job is to create a space that will enable the supervisee to find their own style of being a therapist/worker. The space is the heart of the process that helps the supervisee gain insight and find their own solutions and explore the unknown – staying with it and not trying to resolve it. A space to explore fantasies, hunches and feelings. This allows the supervisee step back from their work and see the themes. It also allows them to move between experiencing and reflecting.

The Supervision Process

Most importantly, supervisor and supervisee look at the ‘parallel process’: where the relationship dynamics between client and therapist/worker appear in the supervision room. The supervisee literally, but unconsciously, acts like the client to show the supervisor what is happening in the relationship. The origin of this is from our own childhood and mimicry at play. It is the supervisee’s out of character behaviour that really shows how the client is.
This process externalises the client for the supervisee and he/she can look at the client with fresh eyes, with a sense of perspective, and a sense of where the therapeutic relationship is going or needs to go.


All parts of this process are regularly reviewed; the relationship between supervisor and supervisee, client progress, supervisee progress, so a clear development is maintained. Mutual feedback is encouraged as well as a look at strengths and weaknesses on all sides, including the supervisor. So the supervisee gets a sense of strong support and mutuality in the relationship. Both parties will also regularly re-contract the work so that adjustments are being made and the work’s effectiveness is maintained.

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