Making the most of clinical supervision: 5 Tips

How to help you maximise your clinical supervision

Clinical supervision is the process by which a health and care professional meets with a colleague to discuss the supervisee’s clinical work. One can say that the main purpose of clinical supervision is to ensure the safety of the clients we work with and that ethical and professional standards are maintained throughout all aspects of care. However, it is well established that the benefits of good quality supervision  go far beyond meeting ethical standards. For instance, it has been argued that clinical supervision through providing a safe place for the supervisee to share their work, reflect on it and seek guidance can foster skills development, personal and professional growth. This in turn can lead to better clinical practice, higher job satisfaction and less burnout.

In practice, the provision and access to clinical supervision is highly variable. Different professional groups have varying degrees of norms and practices around supervision. For Clinical Psychologists, in the UK, the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) standards set as a minimum requirement for safe practice that Clinical Psychologists access 1.5 hrs of clinical supervision fortnightly in addition to opportunities for informal supervision. What is key in the standards set by the BPS is that, the same requirement is expected independently of how experienced is a Clinical Psychologist is. This is an important requirement given that it assumes that, for safe practice, every clinician requires taking a step back from their day-to-day practice to think about the impact of the work and this is best done in relationship with another colleague who may be able to provide an additional view, or support if needed.

For me this is a very important aspect to hold in mind because it emphasizes that at any stage of their career a Clinical Psychologist can always learn and improve their practice. This simple idea can yet at times come across as counter-intuitive where sometimes number of years of service can be considered to represent expertise in a particular field. In this sense, for me as a Clinical Psychologist I find that it is important to whilst acknowledging my growing experience in my area of work, such as working clinically with children, young people and families, I find it equally important to embrace my growing edges, and, for that, accessing good quality supervision has greatly contributed and continues to impact on my professional development.

Characteristics of good clinical supervision

To work well, clinical supervision must be valued by both supervisor and supervisee. In practice, it requires structure which means for a good start, both supervisee and supervisor must attend supervision on time, must be prepared for it and supervision should be carried out in an environment that encourages self-reflection.

At the initial stages of setting up supervision, there are important considerations to explore which include setting up a supervision agreement, having clarity about roles and expectations as well as what is expected regarding the process of supervision. Supervision should be a collaborative process based on a trusting relationship between supervisor and supervisee where both feel free to explore clinical work and ways personal and professional issues can impact on the work. There should be boundaries regarding personal therapy and clinical supervision as well as clear understanding on how the supervision will be negotiated in the workplace.

How to make the most of clinical supervision? 5 Tips

For making the most of supervision, supervisees have a great role to play in this process. Below are 5 steps supervisees can take to ensure that they fully use supervision to maximize their potential benefits:

  1. Prepare for supervision – this means to think ahead about a list of topics and particular questions that the supervisee would like to ask their supervisor which would make a positive difference to their work.
  2. Use reflection as a learning tool – this means to be able to use model of reflective practice which can aid reflection on aspects of their clinical work; to be able to share this in supervision and, through gaining different perspectives on this, fostering new learnings. This also includes reflecting on supervision and reviewing it to ensure that both supervisee and supervisor have shared goals.
  3. Take risks in supervision – this could mean to choose to bring the most challenging clinical work to discuss, to engage in active supervision methods (e.g., role plays), share “in vivo” materials (e.g., video clips).
  4. Ask for help – this means to be able to share with your supervision any obstacles you may be facing and to be able to ask for support.
  5. Accept feedback and expand on growing – being able to take non different perspectives is really important to inform our learning and at times we need to be hear what have we done that might have not been helpful. In other words, to be able to receive and provide constructive feedback is a very important aspect of supervision. This can only happen is both supervisor and supervisee have a trusting relationship which is warm and supportive to enable mutual professional growth.

If you would like to know more are clinical supervision or are interested in accessing clinical supervision, get in touch by calling Dora on 07818 757 787 or emailing us on

Kind regards,

Dora Bernardes