What is clinical supervision?


A responsibility of the supervisor is to provide other practitioners [supervisees] with a supportive reflective space so as to enable those practitioners to review their clinical caseloads, and their own responses and reactions to the work with clients or patients.

Regular supervision not only is concerned with the welfare of the client or patient but can also play an important role in a supervisee’s self-care. In the BACP Ethical Framework , the section on ‘Self-respect: fostering the practitioner’s self-knowledge and care for self’ (p.3), states:

‘There is an ethical responsibility to use supervision for appropriate personal and professional support and development …’

It is imperative that practitioners are not diminished or depleted by the work, but nurture and maintain their own physical, emotional, intellectual well-being.  The restorative aspect of supervision pays attention to the impact on you of clients and patients as well as considering how you affect them.  The practitioner is enabled to self-support where and whenever possible.  In supervision groups, when appropriate, peer supervisees may be very supportive.

 Clients and patients may be challenging, or distressed, or in situations that are confusing; in supervision your resilience as a practitioner is supported along with your clarity and awareness.  Relationships in the workplace, or the demands of your agency or organisation, may be causing you stress; supervision is a means of restoring your best possible level of functioning and confidence.  A boundary is always observed between supervision and therapy, although therapy issues may be identified and named in supervision.

The formative aspect of supervision is aimed at increasing the practitioner’s skills, knowledge and understanding, thereby promoting professional development and competence.

Regarding the normative aspect, supervision is a major device for ensuring accountability among counsellors, psychotherapists and those in related professions.  The supervisor and supervisee collaborate to make sure that the rights, welfare and well-being of the client or patient are all being safely guarded.