As a therapist, have you ever wondered if you are getting the most out of your supervision? Or what effective supervision looks like? The BACP recommends we have at least 1.5 hours of supervision every month, but how often do we attend each month unprepared, unenthused and even see it as a waste of time? It may be time to reconsider the value of supervision. 

The BACP defines supervision as: Good supervision is much more than case management. It includes working in depth on the relationship between practitioner and client in order to work towards desired outcomes and positive effects. (BACP Ethical Framework) 

Developing a good relationship 

The key to any good supervision is a good relationship where you feel that you can be open and honest and that you can raise any difficulties you’re having, as well as discuss the positives. The relationship you have with your supervisor needs to be one where this is encouraged and there are no feelings of shame and inadequacy involved. We don’t learn from being told we’re fantastic all the time! 

This is one reason why the BACP recommend that supervision should have a review process where you have the opportunity to be able to discuss any way that the relationship could be improved. For some, a review can feel like an easier place to discuss issues. The S-SRQ is one example of a review that allows the supervisee to comment on how much they agree or disagree with a series of statements relating to their supervisor. Don’t forget that you can always ask your supervisor for a review. 

A good supervisory relationship can even be used as a tool itself. By exploring together what is coming up in the relationship between the supervisor and supervisee, we can check for any parallel processes or hidden dynamics in the work between the supervisee and the client. For example, does the session feel rushed? Do we feel stuck? Do any of us feel disengaged?  

Or, the supervisor can demonstrate a good use of self-process, which can not only reveal valuable insights about the client, but it can also encourage the supervisee to develop their own self-process when working with clients. 

There are many ways the relationship can be used for effective supervision and here were just some brief examples as the reality is that it’s almost limitless. A strong relationship allows for error, trust, curiosity and experiment, working at this depth will not be possible. 

Are you feeling challenged? 

Supervision is about developing your skills as a therapist and being challenged. If you’re bored or unenthused, maybe you aren’t being challenged enough. To be effective, supervision needs to be a place where you can grow. To do this you first need to feel that a safe base has been established and something like the S-SRQ can help you know if this happened or not. 

As a supervisee, you come with your own wounds, projections and other qualities that make us all human. In counselling training, it is expected that you gain some awareness of how you can bring your experiences into the room with your clients. Supervision is an extension of this – a place where you can also learn about your reaction to others. 

Being challenged to develop your own self-awareness is an important part of effective supervision. 

Developing your skills 

Your growth within your counselling career is also important, so you feel you are reaching your full potential. It’s important your supervisor is aware of your developmental needs and is able to guide you where required. Sometimes we might need that extra push to have the confidence in ourselves and our abilities but know that we are still working within our levels of proficiency as an ethical counsellor. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where this line is, as counsellors, we might struggle with our own feelings of ‘not good enough’. 

To conclude, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is your relationship like?  
  • Are you able to bring to supervision what you would least like your supervisor to know about the work with your clients?  
  • When was the last time you had a review with your supervisor?  
  • Do you feel you are working with a relational depth?   
  • Are you being challenged?  
  • Are you growing in your counselling career?  
  • Are you getting effective supervision? 

At Horizon Counselling, Claire is a trained supervisor and works using Hawkins and Shohet’s Seven-Eyed Process Model. This allows for seven different ways to explore how and what you’re bringing to the client. It works from a relational perspective so helps to quickly achieve in-depth insights about the client and the work. Claire is also trained in developmental models of supervision and so can work with you based on what developmental needs you may have. 

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