Clinical Supervision

Supervision is used in counselling, psychotherapy, and other mental health disciplines as well as many other professions engaged in working with people. It consists of the practitioner meeting regularly with another professional, not necessarily more senior, but normally with training in the skills of supervision, to discuss casework and other professional issues in a structured way. This is often known as clinical or counselling supervision or consultation. The purpose is to assist the practitioner to learn from his or her experience and progress in expertise, as well as to ensure good service to the client or patient.

Clinical supervision is used in many disciplines in the British Health Service. Registered allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians, speech and lauguage therapists and art, music and drama therapy. Drama therapists are now expected to have regular clinical supervision. C. Waskett (2006) has written on the application of solution focused supervision skills to either counselling or clinical supervision work.

Some practitioners (eg art, music and drama therapists, chaplains, psychologists, and mental health occupational therapists) have used this practice for many years. In other disciplines the practice may be a new concept. For NHS nurses, the use of clinical supervision is expected as part of good practice.

Practising members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy are bound to have supervision for at least 1.5 hours a month. Students and trainees must have it at a rate of one hour for every eight hours of client contact.

The concept is also well used in psychology, social work, the probation service and other workplaces.

Models or approaches to supervision

There are many different ways of developing supervision skills which can be helpful to the clinician or practitioner in their work. Specific models or approaches to both counselling supervision and clinical supervision come from different historical strands of thinking and beliefs about relationships between people. A few examples from a very wide range of approaches are given below.

Two psychotherapists, P. Hawkins and R. Shohet (2003), developed a humanistic process model which springs from “ourselves as wounded helpers” (p7). S.Page and V. Wosket describe a cyclical structure.

F. Inskipp and B. Proctor (1993, 1995) developed an approach based on the normative, formative and restorative elements of the relationship between supervisor and supervisee. The Brief Therapy practice teaches a solution focused approach based on the work of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg which uses the concepts of respectful curiosity, the preferred future, recognition of strengths and resources, and the use of scaling to assist the practitioner to progress.

Counselling or clinical supervisors will be experienced in their discipline and normally then have further training in any of the above-mentioned approaches, or others.

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