Reflecting Through Counselling Supervision

Woman and laptopThe use of Counselling Supervision is another way in which counsellors reflect upon practice. Although Counselling Supervision has become a professional requirement it is welcomed by many counsellors as a rich source of support, learning, understanding and space for reflection and evaluation (Carroll, 1996).  For the purposes of this article emphasis is placed on the processes of counsellor reflection and evaluation.  Trust is an integral part of the supervisory process to gain maximum benefit the counsellor needs to share aspects of personal difficulty as well as success with the supervisor. The most effective use of counselling supervision is made when the counsellor prepares for the supervision session (Feltham, Dryden, 1994).

Such preparation includes the asking of such questions as: If I could risk telling my supervisor what really concerns me in my counselling work, what would that be?, What is my particular difficulty or problem in working with this client?, Is there anything I want to celebrate or feed back to my supervisor? (Page, Wosket, 1994).  Exploration of the work undertaken with clients enables the counsellor to explore their practice, identify their strengths, weaknesses, personal blocks, skills deficits and areas of expertise.

Apart from discussing the work the supervisee is undertaking the supervisor may use a variety of techniques to help the supervisee reflect upon their work.  For example, listening to tapes of client work so that interventions can be evaluated at the micro-skills level, using adaptations of the IPR method mentioned above, asking the supervisee to ‘role-play’ particular situations that they may be finding difficult.

Some counselling supervisors encourage their supervisees to write a case study as part of on-going professional development (Parker, 1995).  Writing a case study provides the counsellor with an opportunity to view their work in a more formal way focusing on aspects of the work the counsellor found difficult, what learning took place, the counsellor’s internal world and what skills expertise or deficit were highlighted.  The use of case-series studies may also be employed.  Here, the counsellor combines into one case study several clients with common clinically relevant features.  For example, a counsellor may wish to consider their approach to working with clients who share the characteristics of excessive or unhealthy emotional dependency, resistence or anger.

Previous posts in this series:

Reflective Practice and Self-Evaluation
Keeping a Professional Development Log

Next in the series:

Monitoring Effectiveness


Carroll, M (1996), Counselling Supervision – Theory, Skills and Practice, London: Cassell
Feltham, C, Dryden, W (1994), Developing Counsellor Supervision, Dryden, W (ed) Developing Counselling Series, London: Sage
Page, S, Wosket, V (1994) Supervising The Counsellor – a cyclical model, London: Routledge
Parker, M (1995) ‘Practical Approaches : Case Study Writing’ in Counselling, p19-21, Volume 6, No 1, Rugby: British Association for Counselling.

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