Counselling Supervision

Every qualified counsellor who is in practice will have (to have) supervision, usually at least an hour and a half month – it is a working lifetime commitment, so it is important that you find the right supervisor for you (if you have a choice).

What actually is counselling supervision? It is pretty hard to explain, as we discuss and review each other’s work without there being managerial oversight. In counselling, your supervisor is not your manager and vice versa. It is easier to explain what it is not… It is not therapy, it is not line-management, it is not employer – employee relations. 

The same as for therapy, there are a whole myriad of supervision frameworks out there. Back in the day of Freud (yes, he has something to answer for), they met in small informal groups to analyse their work and each other. Some decided that the analysing of the work had to be done in supervision and any personal issues arising from the work should be brought to personal therapy.

Supervision Continued

With the rise of many counselling / therapy models, supervision was thought to be linked to the therapeutic core-model – if you were a Person-Centred Counsellor, you would have needed a Person-Centred Supervisor. The supervisor became somewhat responsible for the skill development of the supervisee. Taping of sessions was introduced, enabling the supervisor to find out what really happened in sessions. Other forms of supervision emerged; individual, small group (using the group process for learning) and peer. 

In the 1970s there was a movement away from clinical models to more educational and psycho-social models, emphasising the roles/tasks of the supervisors and the learning stages of the supervisees. Developmental Model: The supervisee, the supervisor and the supervisory relationship all move through discernible and somewhat predictable stages, each stage characterised by its own tasks and issues. Social Model: What supervisors and supervisees do within supervision; what tasks are performed and by whom. “Tasks are the behavioural side of roles. A role is person-centred (teacher/pupil): the tasks is action-centred (to teach/to learn). Even though a strong notional distinction is made between roles and tasks, in reality they combine.” (Carroll, 2010:17).

Counselling Supervision

Today (one hundred years after Freud’s informal gatherings) all the above still takes place in one form or another. Currently we still seem to struggle with differentiating between therapy, training and supervision, in the context of supervision.

I have opted in for a combination of Social Role Models; 7 Generic Tasks of Supervision (Carroll, 2010) and The Functional Model (Inskipp & Proctor, 2001), while underwriting this with a Developmental Model (Stoltenberg & Delworth, 1987) and making use of my Gestalt and ACT skill set – integrating Humanistic and Behavioural theories and practice.

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