Support Structures

Clinical supervision

Supervision may be defined in various ways. One such definition is provided by Bernard and Goodyear (1988): 

“Supervision is an intervention that is provided by a senior member of a profession to a junior member or members of that same profession.  This relationship is evaluative, extends over time, and has the simultaneous purposes of enhancing the professional functioning of the junior member(s), monitoring the quality of professional services offered to the clients she, he, or they see(s), and serving as gatekeeper of those who are to enter the particular profession.” 

While clinical supervision is generally considered an integral and useful part of a therapist’s clinical practice, sometimes difficulties occur in this context. This section has been written to help therapists and their clinical supervisors consider what they might do if there are difficulties with their clinical supervision.  It is possible that such difficulties might contribute, at some level, to clients experiencing adverse effects within therapy. 

Once supervision is underway, it is important that supervisor and supervisee can join in the process so that supervisees have an opportunity to:

  1. bring relevant clinical material,
  2. reflect on their practice,
  3. explore therapy processes, and
  4. develop their understanding of the client’s situation and themselves. 

The supervisory alliance, or relationship, is important. In one study, (Palomo 2010[1]) key aspects of this process were reported as:

  • a safe base,
  • commitment,
  • structure,
  • reflective education, and
  • formative feedback 

Clearly, if there are difficulties in one or more of these areas, the quality of the supervisory relationship may suffer. This, in turn, may lead to supervision not being as effective in identifying and addressing the issues that can lead to adverse effects. 

[1]Palomo M., Beinart H. & Cooper M. (2010). Development and validation of the Supervisory Relationship Questionnaire (SRQ) in UK trainee clinical psychologists. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49(2), 131-149