Clinical supervision is a very important aspect of any counselling, it is important for both newly qualified therapists and more senior professionals. Offering a chance to analyse both clients issues and personal practises, it is a key element in becoming a better counsellor. 

What is clinical supervision?

Working under supervision, means that a counsellor or psychotherapist uses the services of another counsellor or psychotherapist to review their work with clients, their professional development and personal development.

At the most basic of levels, supervision means to oversee an individual. This is of the supervisory process of counselling and is a requirement of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

It is a professional service, rather than a managerial role, and for counsellors who work in institutions, supervision and management will normally be entirely separate. The supervisor acts not as a ‘boss’ but as a consultant.

Some counsellors also use group supervision, in which several therapists confer in each other’s work, although ordinarily this is used in addition to individual supervision, rather than as a replacement.

Who needs supervision?

Any counsellor or psychotherapist, regardless of experience, need supervision. A client who encounters a therapist working without supervision should properly consider carefully whether they wish to work with that therapist.

What does supervision mean for confidentiality?

A practise of supervision means that many details provided by clients are shared with people other than the counsellor who is concerned. However, overall client confidentiality is still safeguarded because:

  • Individually identifying information (such as a full name) is not revealed
  • Information shared in supervision is itself protected under a contract of confidentiality and normally may not be shared outside the supervision relationship.

This ensures that the information can’t be traced back to the individual that it relates to, and that information will not go beyond the relationship, except in exceptional circumstances.

Why is supervision necessary?

In the UK, supervision is regarded by my most professionals as a necessity. Bodies such as BACP consider supervision to be essential, both to protect the clients and to improve the skills of counsellors, to make them better equipped to help their clients.

Supervision exists for two reasons:

  • To protect clients
  • To improve the ability of counsellors to provide value to their clients.

Supervision protects clients by involving an impartial third party in the work of a counsellor and client, helping to reduce the risk of serious oversight and helping the counsellor concerned to reflect on their own feelings, thoughts, behaviour and general approach with the client.

These opportunities will reflect how they can relate to the client, as well as to garner insights from the perspective of another therapist, also it helps the counsellor to improve the value they are providing for their clients.

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 great relationship with your supervisor is the key to success, when choosing a supervisor, consider the following things:

  • The supervisor’s theoretical background and more professional training
  • How long they have been practising (more recently registered therapists should look for more experienced supervisors)
  • How personal and supportive you find them and their supervision is like

This will help you decide if they’re right for you.

You can also find out if they’re the right supervisor for you, by following a few steps:

  1. You can ask them whether their theoretical input is the same as yours. It can be confusing if you choose a supervisor who’s methods and processes differ from your own background and theory training.
  2. In a private practise you can safely say that the less experience the counsellor has, the more experience the supervisor needs to have. Research and ask them about the level of experience that your supervisor has. However, think about what you’re at in your counselling process and what levels of experience you might feel is right for you.
  3. Do they have their own private practise? How do they work? Where are they from? Do they have a website?
  4. Suggest perhaps calling them or meeting the in person, reflect on what information you have on them so far, how do you feel about meeting them?
  5. The amount of supervision should be proportionate in relation to nature and amount of therapy, intensive trauma work or heavy case loads may require more intensive supervision. The minimum requirement for supervision outlined by BACP is one to one and a half hours per month or per 8 hours of client contact.
  6. Finding a supervisor is very personal, just like finding a counsellor. You may not find one right for you straight away, it is important to do your research, suggest a meeting or phone calls.

How do you find a supervisor?

If you’re in a position to look for a supervisor you can search online via BACP’s ‘find a therapist’ directory or by choosing the word ‘supervisor’ in the drop down menu.

Online supervision

This is very similar to what you would do face to face with a supervisor. However, sometimes you could end up finding a supervisor that suits you that lives far away and it can be difficult trying to meet up. It can be a lot more convenient to do what you need to do online and you don’t always have to stick to a supervisor that is local.

20 minute informal session

I as a counsellor offer a free informal 20 minute session to see if i am the right person for a supervisor to work with, its vital that you get on with them and are able to explore the clients and get a safe place to enable you to grow as a counsellor.

I am a qualified counsellor and clinical supervisor, if you would like to see if i am the right supervisor for you please get in contact with me. 

If you want to know more about supervision, be sure to give the BACP website a look.

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