What is Counselling and Psychotherapy Supervision?

Working under counselling 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 often their personal development. Supervision 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.

 

What is the Function of Counselling Supervision?

There are a number of functions of supervision. These include helping the supervisee understand the client better, to become more aware of their own reactions and responses to clients, and to understand the dynamics of how you as the therapist and client are interacting. We would also look at the interventions and the consequences of those interventions, and explore other ways of working with this and similar clients.

 

Effective Counselling Supervision?

For supervision to be effective there needs to be present the ability to switch focus between the areas such as the client that is being described, the therapist’s process, and the supervisors (my own) process (the here and now relationship). Other factors also play a role, such as exploring the client within their wider context, or possibly the wider context of the organisation a therapist is working in.

 

Why is Supervision Needed?

Counselling and Psychotherapy Supervision exists for two reasons:

  1. to protect clients, and
  2. to improve the ability of therapists to provide value to their clients.

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

 

What Qualities are of Benefit from Your Supervisor?

Whilst clinical experience generally helps, there are a number of qualities that, when present in supervision, make a valuable difference. These include:

  • Flexibility.
  • A multi-perspectival view.
  • The capacity to manage and contain anxiety.
  • Openness to learn.
  • Sensitivity, tactfulness, supportiveness.
  • Empathy, respect.
  • Humour, humility, patience.
  • Concern for growth and well-being of therapist and welfare of the client.
  • Knowledge of the approaches in which they supervise.

There is a need to appreciate inherent structures present in therapy, such as the power of the therapeutic relationship, and how that co-exists with a collaborative partnership. As therapy offers a microcosm exploration of a client’s world there is also needed an appreciation of the significance of the interactions between therapist and client. This includes issues such as touch, the therapist being present in the moment and room, and being safe and steady.

“The therapist needs to have the courage to stay in the process: to be emotionally present to intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics and be aware of the particular socio-cultural context, while being prepared to take some risks towards the co-creation of experience, understanding and knowledge.” Finlay (2016)

 

Supervision Goals

What are some of the goals for therapy that supervision with me can oversee? The work of a therapist is often incredibly varied and therefore requires a multi-layered skillset, which requires overseeing so as to not overload even the most experienced therapist. Roles can include those such as:

  • Support, such as in bereavement.
  • Psycho-educational, in learning how to cope with panic attacks.
  • Crises intervention, perhaps after a trauma.
  • Existential decision making, faced for example when leaving a marriage.
  • Insight, understanding, self-acceptance, when exploring issues of identity, needs, etc.
  • Relational dynamics, Developmental needs, when feeling stuck, or suffering chronic insecurity.

All of these important aspects that can arise in therapy, and the therapist’s management of them, can be explored in a safe and held environment without judgement or reproach. This is a vital aspect of the supervisory role. In all of the above scenario’s, and others, you will be able to explore issues of content, in what the client presents, and also process. I.e., what’s going on within you? What’s going on in the client? What’s going on between us?

 

Booking Your First Supervision Session

When you decide to engage in supervision, we will begin with the vital aspects of the supervision relationship to make sure that our journey is built on trust, respect and goodwill. You will find out in our first session how we work as a supervisor, and have space to explore what you as the supervisee is needing, as well as the other administrative processes that need to covered, such as:

  • The supervision contract – The time, length, location (if not online), cost, method of payment, missed sessions/cancellations details.
  • The theoretical background that will guide our work and experience of working in that paradigm.
  • Record keeping.
  • Information about how the supervisee is going to be working: Setting, number of clients, theoretical model.
  • And also … can we work together? Do we fit?

With a background in counselling and psychotherapy education that spans the 2 decades, Tom and Sandra provide counselling supervision to both students new to the counselling and psychotherapy role, and experienced therapists with many years of practice. Whatever your level of experience they can adapt the delivery of counselling supervision to meet your needs.

With backgrounds in integrative relational and existential psychotherapy, Tom and Sandra integrate these theoretical models into their approach to supervision. However, they also have experience in working with other models such as CBT, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Humanistic and Transpersonal psychology, Person Centred counselling, NLP and Hypnotherapy.

To find out more about how you could engage with Tom or Sandra for supervision, contact us here.

Author: Dr Tom Barber

Dr Tom Barber is an experienced integrative and existential psychotherapist and counsellor, who has been helping people overcome personal challenges for the last 25 years. He is a bestselling author of 6 books, and spends his time between private clients, teaching and lecturing internationally, writing, and developing programmes to help people improve the quality of their life. His academic speciality is in the subject of emotion.

Originally posted 2020-06-11 10:50:06.