What is Clinical Supervision?

Simply put Clinical supervision is about ‘allowing time for you’ or ‘me time’.

It can be defined as regular, protected time for facilitated, in-depth reflection of clinical practice. It aims to enable you to achieve, sustain, and creatively develop a high quality of practice through the means of focused support and development. It provides a space for you to reflect on the part you play in the complexities and quality of your work practice so in this regard ongoing sessions are led by your own agenda.

It provides a structured approach to deeper reflection on clinical practice. This can lead to improvements in practice and service user care. Your supervisor should aim to support your clinical skills and professional practice in response to service user needs. It should feel supportive and provide some relief from the emotional and personal stress involved in meeting the requirements and demands of your work practice.

It’s generally recommended that the process of clinical supervision be continued throughout a person’s career, whether they remain in clinical practice or move into management or other spheres of practice.

Models of Clinical Supervision:

Mindfulness is not positive thinking. Mindfulness is not about having only good feelings. It does not help you to get rid of unwanted feelings, but rather it helps to actually feel them.

That is why it is often said that mindfulness is not for the fainthearted. Our usual reaction to uncomfortable or distressing feelings is to push them away and try to get rid of them.

With mindfulness we learn to turn towards the difficulties, challenges and pain in our lives with an attitude of allowing and kindness. This is a gentle process, not a forceful one, and it happens gradually as we build emotional strength and resilience.

Resistance and avoidance require a lot of energy and when we let them go and allow ourselves and our experience to be as they are we find that we free up a lot of energy which can now go into seeing more clearly, making wiser choices and taking wiser action.

Mindfulness is not relaxation. Becoming more relaxed may be a welcome by-product of mindfulness practice, but it is not the aim. As we develop mindfulness we begin to see our lives, our behaviours and relationships more clearly and this is not always easy. That is why the attitude we bring to the practice is one of kindness, patience and self-compassion.

There is a great deal of literature on clinical supervision and there are a variety of models and approaches. I use an eclectic approach to clinical supervision depending on what is required at the time. Some of the commonly used approaches are detailed below:

The Formative Approach is an aspect of clinical supervision that relates to the professional development of the practitioner. Through reflection on practice and self-awareness, the practitioner is able to understand the service user better and how to explore other ways of working to develop their practice, under the guidance or direction of someone with greater experience than themselves. 

The Restorative approach supports the practitioners personal well-being. Through the development of a supportive relationship with the supervisor the practitioner deals with emotional issues arising from practice e.g emotional reaction to abuse, neglect, conflict and other feelings experienced in the practitioner / client relationship. This allows the practitioner an opportunity to be able to share concerns and difficulties regarding their practice.


Why have Clinical Supervision?

Clinical supervision is an important process in supporting practitioners, whether working alone in private practice, or within organisations with elements of clinical governance. It can help with regard to:

– Improvement in the quality of the service being delivered
– Risk management and performance management
– Systems of accountability and responsibility
– Increases of information and insight
– Encouraging professional and personal growth
– Lifelong learning
– Clinical governance
– As an aid to improving standards and the quality of care
– Promoting reflective practice

Clinical Supervision is not:

– A management tool
– A method of surveillance
– A formal performance review
– A form of Preceptorship
– Counselling
– Hierarchical
– Criticism of the individual as a practitioner or a person
– A form of therapy
– The same thing as training supervision