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What is supervision? 

Supervision, in the counselling sense, is a means of ensuring competence and ethical practice in counselling. It does not have the same connotation of hierarchical monitoring as does supervision in, say, a factory environment, nor does it imply that the supervised counsellor is not competent and therefore needs someone to 'keep an eye on' him or her. Personally, I think a more accurate term is Professional Consultation.

Inevitably, the supervisor will be a practitioner of considerable expertise and experience, and may, indeed, have greater experience than the supervisee (the practitioner being supervised). However, it may also be that the supervisee is of equal or greater experience than the supervisor, but still benefits from having a different perspective on clinical issues.

There are three main functions of counselling supervision

  • Policing, or the maintenance of professional standards. This function helps to ensure that the counsellor maintains proper boundaries, is fit to engage in clinical practice and is providing an effective service.

  • 'Nuts and bolts', which includes teaching, modelling good practice, awareness of different theoretical perspectives. This function helps to ensure that the counsellor, even if he or she works from a specific theoretical approach, has an awareness of other views and is therefore 'good-enough' to practice competently with sufficient knowledge and awareness of factors which can affect the counselling process at different times.

  • Creativity, or the subtle 'free space' where intuition arises. This function is, at least in part, the rapport between counsellor and supervisor. It allows the counsellor to hear him or herself as the client's issue is discussed, enabling fresh insights to develop about how best to help the client.
Together, these three functions help to ensure safe and competent counselling for the client at all times by ensuring that the counsellor is up to date with knowledge and current thinking, is behaving in an appropriate manner towards clients and is not overloaded, 'stressed out' or otherwise incapacitated in a manner which might prevent safe and effective practice.

Supervision is normally undertaken on a one-to-one basis i.e. one supervisor and one counsellor, but may also be undertaken in a group of up to 10 counsellors and an experienced supervisor, and both can be offered through Personal Potential.