Clinical supervision is an important part of counselling, both for newly qualified therapists and more senior professionals. Offering a chance to analyse both client issues and personal practises, it is a key element in becoming a better counsellor. Let’s explore what clinical supervision is and why it’s such a critical aspect of counselling services.
What is clinical supervision?
In a nutshell, clinical supervision is a formal meeting in which therapists can discuss their work on a regular basis. Sometimes including training or assessment components, it is not only a chance to gain insight from a more experienced professional, but also an ethically important part of practising.
Why is supervision necessary?
In the UK, supervision is regarded by most professionals as a necessity. Bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) consider supervision to be essential, both to protect clients and to improve the skills of counsellors, making them better equipped to help their clients.
Bringing an impartial supervisor in reduces the risk of oversights in the client’s treatment, and enables the counsellor concerned to reflect on their own thoughts about the issues being dealt with. They can explore different perspectives with the supervisor in order to bring the most value to the client sessions, in the same way that a paper might undergo peer review before being published.
Therapy makes certain demands on therapists, so supervision also offers support if they start to become over-involved or if there are overlaps between the client’s experience and the therapist’s own. Supervision ensures any irregularities in the counsellor’s practise are identified and resolved, and that the counsellor seeks further support if necessary. It is not a counselling service itself, but a consulting service that aims to ensure all clients are dealt with fairly and appropriately, and that the counsellor receives advice and guidance to improve their practise.
How does supervision impact confidentiality?
Clients want to be sure that the information they impart in their sessions remains confidential, so it’s understandable that disclosure to a supervisor may seem undesirable. However, counsellors take steps to ensure some confidentiality remains:
- Identifying information such as names aren’t disclosed during supervision
- Any details shared during supervision is protected by a confidentiality agreement
This ensures that information can’t be traced back to the individual that it relates to, and that information will not go beyond that relationship except in exceptional circumstances.
Choosing a supervisor
Having a good relationship with your supervisor is key to the arrangement’s success, so when choosing a supervisor, consider the following things:
- The supervisor’s theoretical background and professional training
- How long they have been practising (more recently registered therapists should look for more experienced supervisors)
- How personable and supportive you find them and what their supervision style is like
These points will help you to understand what you need from your supervisor and whether the person you are considering is the right one for you.
Supervision is essential both for ethical practise and for the professional development of counsellors.