An Introduction to Professional Supervision for Counsellors

two men talking while sat in comfy looking chairsFor the past few decades, the concept of supervision in the helping professions has been under continuous scrutiny. Many years ago, supervision was considered to be a task carried out by a senior manager, often gaining seniority through years of service, and the process being mostly subjective. Non standardised supervisory practices involved ‘sorting the wheat from the chaff’ and creating a culture of non-questioning nor being creative within a working role.

Changes have been huge over recent years.The field of supervision has been reviewed and revised to determine consistent philosophies across the board, and to explain exactly what is meant by supervision and what its central values and aims are. The defining philosophies for the practice of supervision are to be found in the Standards for Supervision and the Curriculum Guide for Counselling Supervision.

To be a great leader or people manager, a person must have an extensive set of skills – from planning and delegation to motivation and communication. Because the skill set is so wide, it is tempting for an individual to continue using and developing the skills they are already comfortable with. However, for your long-term success, it is important to analyse the skills in all areas of the working role and then meet the challenge to become better at it.

Supervision may be defined as a working alliance between two or more professionals where supervisees offer an account of their work, reflect on it, receive feedback, and receive guidance and support as appropriate.  The purpose of this relationship is to enable the worker to gain in ethical competency, confidence and creativity in order to give the best possible services to clients. Support and job satisfaction become important parts of these aims. Within this framework, supervision is primarily focused on the Supervisor helping the Supervisee/Therapist/Counsellor to develop specific skills in the service of the client(s) and to be the best possible worker, gaining great job satisfaction. There are many models, tools, and techniques as well as information to help the Supervisor in this process.

Different terms may be used for the ‘client’ and the ‘practitioner’ in different contexts. For example, a client may also be referred to as a patient in a hospital setting or as a subject if they are participating in a research experiment where their data is incorporated. Similarly, a practitioner may be referred to as a counsellor, but may also be called a therapist, carer, helper, and so forth.

The importance of this working relationship is crucial to the success of the aims of the organisation and for the outcomes of helping. The helper or counsellor should gain inspiration and support as well as the chance to reflect on and discuss matters of concern. These are often things that they cannot talk about at home or with friends on account of the confidential nature of their working environment.

The Academy for Distance Learning offers a course in Professional Supervision that aims to extend and develop practitioners’ understanding of professional supervision at its best.

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