What is Supervision? Why is it required?
ACCA members who are also counsellors, have as an ethical requirement, the need to receive clinical supervision. Supervision in counselling refers to the process whereby a counsellor relates to a more senior counselling practitioner to discuss issues related to their practice.
It is an apprenticeship system if you like, but unlike most apprenticeships which have an end date, in counselling, the supervisee never arrives at the point that they don’t continue to need this protection.
All counsellors whether they are just starting out or are extremely experienced need to be involved in a supervision experience as they continue to practice. This is to safeguard both the counsellor and the clients that they work with.
Supervision is a mandatory requirement of most professional human service organisations and should be written into any contracts where a counsellor is employed. Counsellors in private practice are required to organize their own supervision or apply to counselling associations such as ACCA, ACA or PACFA to be referred to a registered supervisor.
All members of ACCA who work as counsellors (apart from student members) are required to be under supervision to maintain their level of membership and to progress to higher levels of membership.
What happens in supervision?
Supervision involves the following three areas:
- Ethical mindedness
- Personal development
Typically this would occur through the discussion of specific cases that the supervisee is wishing to explore or receive advice on or have confirmation on in case analysis or planning.
Supervision does not need to be face to face and can be conducted over the phone or zoom just as effectively, particularly if you are isolated due to distance. However, if your internet connection is unstable, it may be best to rely on the phone for supervision.
Supervision needs to be conducted no less than once a month for all those who are seeing clients on a professional basis. Once a fortnight may be needed for counsellors who work in excess of 20 client hours a week.
Professional Supervision – What’s involved?
There still seems to be a lot of confusion about what Professional Supervision is and what it encompasses. The following sets out a general framework of what constitutes Professional Supervision and also discusses some issues.
Firstly, what Professional Supervision is not. It is not:
- Someone watching over your shoulder whilst you practise.
- A discussion between two practitioners;
- Being supervised whilst on a field placement or completing a course;
- Discussing personal matters with a counsellor.
Supervision is: A formal arrangement for counsellors to discuss their work regularly with someone who is experienced in counselling and supervision.
The task is to work together to ensure and develop the efficiency of the Counsellor/client relationship.
The supervision is usually a paid-for service or in an agency it can be part of your employment requirement.
What makes someone a Supervisor?
A supervisor must fill all of the following criteria;
- Have a qualification in Supervision or be enrolled in a Counselling Supervision course.
- Have at least five years of clinical/counselling practical experience;
- Be a qualified clinical Counsellor (or eligible for registration as a clinical Counsellor with ACCA).
Who needs to have a Professional Supervisor?
- All practising counsellors;
- Any person whose job has a large component that involves them dealing with people in crisis;
- Most professionals who work in the Human Services industry;
- Any other person who believes it would be advantageous;
- Professional Supervisors
What qualifications does a Counsellor need to be a supervisor after meeting the above criteria?
- Completed or enrolled in an ACCA-recognised course in supervision.
- Most registered counselling psychologists are qualified through their degrees;
- Some Social Workers, depending on their background, are qualified through their degrees;
- Some religious leaders are qualified through experience and courses.
In essence a Professional Supervisor needs to be an experienced clinical counsellor who has had at least five years practical counselling experience, and who has completed a qualification in supervision or enrolled in an ACCA recognized course in supervision or completed a qualification in supervision as part of a degree.
Who is not a Professional Supervisor?
- Anyone who does not meet the discussed criteria;
- Anyone who has a counselling qualification but does not meet the criteria;
- Anyone who is qualified as a counsellor but has not had at least five years formal counselling experience. This includes academics and employees of training establishments.
What should my supervision contract cover?
- Costs per session and any extras eg, STD phone calls;
- Session times;
- Amount of sessions per client contact time;
- Basic framework of sessions;
- Any journals and signing off procedures;
- Reporting procedures for any occurrences that involve ethical and/or legal issues;
- Penalties for late cancellations.
What should a session consist of?
The supervisors’ primary role is to ensure that their clients are receiving appropriate therapeutic counselling.
By ensuring the Counsellor continually develops their professional practice in all areas, the supervisor ensures a Counsellor remains psychologically healthy.
The supervisor is also responsible for detecting any symptoms of burn out, transference, hidden agendas etc in the supervisee.
The four following topics need to be discussed in sessions:
- Supervisee’s counselling;
- Developing process of self-review;
- Quality assurance;
- Best practice;
- Service outcomes of service delivery;
- Identifying risk for supervisee and clients;
- Follow up on client progress;
- Helping the Counsellor assess strengths and weaknesses.
- Establishing clear goals for further sessions;
- Providing resources;
- Explaining the rationale behind a suggested intervention and visa versa;
- Professional development;
- Interpreting significant events in the therapy session;
- Convergent and divergent thinking;
- Use of self
- Topping up
- Facilitating peer connection;
- Duty of care
- Legal responsibilities.
- Case planning
- Record keeping
- Use of self.
Is Supervision Mandatory?
No. No one can make you seek Professional Supervision.
However, counsellors who do not have a Professional Supervisor cannot be placed on the ACCA referral database.
Professional Supervision is now a requirement within the industry.
Membership of professional bodies is now dependent on Professional Supervision and the amount of hours received.
Where do I find a Supervisor?
For members in regional and isolated areas this is a real dilemma. Counsellors who operate in small communities are faced with confidentiality issues if they see a supervisor who is part of that community.
Presently psychologists are the most popular form of Professional Supervision.
The major professional associations, including ACCA, list qualified clinical supervisors on t
hier website. ACCA has a small list of members who are also qualified.