If you’re considering visiting a Counsellor or Hypnotherapist, you may have heard of therapy supervision, but are wondering what it is. In this post, you can read all about the process of supervision and some of the benefits for both therapists and their clients.
When most of us hear the word supervision, we think of someone acting as a Supervisor who oversees or manages the work of others. For many people, especially in the workplace, supervision is a management function which exists to increase productivity, maintain standards and ensure that rules and procedures are followed by staff.
Within the context of therapy and many other mental or physical health related professions, supervision is considered to be a vital part of safe, ethical and professional practice. Within talking therapies such as Counselling, Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy, supervision enables a therapist to review and reflect on their work and in the early stages of a their career, supervision can be an important source of advice and support in emergencies, or with clients whose presenting issues are difficult or complex. For more experienced therapists, supervision can be a valuable ‘checking in’ process, providing a fresh perspective, helping therapists to stay grounded, maintain professional and personal boundaries and avoid burnout.
What does therapy supervision involve?
Supervision involves a therapist meeting at agreed intervals with another therapist who is trained as a Supervisor. During these sessions, the therapist, who is known as the Supervisee, will discuss their client work and any issues that may be affecting their practice. Supervision sessions can cover a variety of topics including:
- Discussing and reflecting on client issues
- Professional challenges and dilemmas
- Practice development and marketing
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and training
- Learning new skills and techniques
- Therapy ideas and strategies for specific issues
- Any issues which may be affecting the Supervisee’s practice
In the early stages of a therapist’s career, the supervision arrangement is usually Differential, meaning that the Supervisor is significantly more experienced and qualified than the Supervisee. This enables the Supervisee to receive support and guidance regarding their work, as the Supervisor acts in a mentoring capacity. After a few years and as a therapist gains more experience, they may engage in Peer Supervision, which is where there is no significant gap of experience between the Supervisee and their Supervisor. The Supervisee and Supervisor recognise each other as peers and therefore the supervision is slightly different, in that it is mutual and reciprocal, with each person taking on both roles.
Therapy supervision often takes place as one-to-one sessions, but therapists can also participate in group supervision, where a group of therapists will meet at regular intervals, with an experienced therapist co-ordinating the group. Traditionally, most one-to-one supervision sessions used to take place in person, however individual supervision via telephone and Skype or Zoom is becoming increasingly more popular.
How often is supervision required?
Most of the larger professional therapy organisations require their members to have a regular supervision arrangement in place and many also specify the amount of supervision required on a monthly or yearly basis.
In addition to ensuring that the requirements of their professional organisation are met, a therapist has a number of other factors to consider when deciding how much supervision they need and these include the complexity of their client cases, their caseload and whether they are also engaging in any other form of supervision activity such as a supervision group. Many therapists who work full time usually have at least one hour of supervision time each month, however this may vary depending on their own professional organisation’s requirements and their own therapy work. Both the Supervisor and the Supervisee usually keep a record or Supervision Log of the amount and frequency of sessions and this can be produced as evidence of supervision is required. Some professional organisations also require their members to have a yearly supervision report from their Supervisor as further evidence of their professional development.
The amount of supervision a therapist is required to engage in varies depending on which professional organisation they are registered with. For Hypnotherapists, the following is a guide (as of January 2022):
The National Hypnotherapy Society (HS)
1.5 hours per month for therapists in full time practice.
The General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR)
A minimum of 2 hours in any 3 month period during the first 2 years in practice (voluntary thereafter).
The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH)
A minimum of 30 minutes per month or an average of 6 hours per year during the first 3 years of practice (voluntary thereafter).
Why is supervision important?
Aside from meeting the requirements of a professional therapy organisation in order to maintain membership, supervision does have benefits for individual therapists too. Depending on their working environment, many therapists can become quite isolated, particularly if they work from home. Supervision provides an important source of advice and support with another experienced therapist who understands the issues that may be faced and who can offer guidance if required. There are many other benefits too including improving skills, reflecting on client cases and own feelings, enhancing awareness of potential issues, challenging assumptions and reviewing perspectives. Above all, effective supervision allows a therapist to identify their own strengths and any areas that need developing, whilst practising in a safe, ethical and professional manner.
For more information about supervision for Hypnotherapists, visit the supervision page of my website here.