Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Personal Philosophy of Supervision in the Context of Guidance and Counselling

Below is an edited version of an assignment I submitted as part of the Guidance Counselling Supervision Training programme run by Trinity College on behalf of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.


The model of supervision that I use is the Seven Eyed Supervisor Model which was devloped by Peter Hawkins and Robin Shohet in their book Supervision in the Helping Professions. It focuses on both client and Guidance Counsellor development, which are the two key supervision goals.

The model focuses on client development in many ways, including: examining why the client chose this Guidance Counsellor, how the client presents himself, examining the story of the client and what he chose to share with the Guidance Counsellor, what metaphors he used and when he used them. In other words, it gets the Guidance Counsellor to present the client as if the client “fully entered the room” Hawkins & Shohet (2010). The Guidance Counsellor also tunes into the unconscious world of the client to listen out for transference, splitting and projection. The supervisor assists the Guidance Counsellor in a supportive way by naming any feelings that he has about this client. This may give more information about what the client is leaving out of the session.

Another fundamental goal of supervision is counsellor development. The Seven- Eyed Model enables this process in a number of ways. According to Hawkins and Shohet (2010), counsellors may, at an early stage of client work, rush to judgement about a client based on a few facts. The supervisor using this model acts as a container for the anxieties of the Guidance Counsellor and helps him to deal with his own feelings of helplessness around the client.

Hawkins& Shohet (2010) state that a counsellor in early therapeutic work with clients, often believes that he has only 2 options. The role of the supervisor is to facilitate the Guidance Counsellor’s learning and to highlight that there are many options. This is done by carrying out a brainstorming exercise which expands the knowledge base of the Guidance Counsellor. It also increases his skill level and helps to remove dualistic thinking.

Supervisor assistance in identifying counter-transference and parallel process helps the Guidance Counsellor increase his capacity to respond in a meaningful way to his client.


According to Grant and Schofield,
“supervision provides 4 core functions: i) acquisition and improvement of therapeutic skills and knowledge; ii) quality control and accountability to the client and to the public; iii) transmission of the culture of psychotherapy, including ethical behaviour; and iv) professional development and growth” (Grant &Schofield, 2007, p. 2).

Carroll (2010) has identified 7 generic tasks of supervision. These are “creating the learning relationship, the teaching task, the counselling task, monitoring professional / ethical issues, the evaluating task, the consultative task, and the administrative task”. These tasks may not apply across all counselling models as some supervisors are unwilling to evaluate the Guidance Counsellor’s work as it would affect their relationship with that person.

Creating a learning relationship according to Carroll (2010) entails providing a supportive environment, which has specific boundaries where the Guidance Counsellor feels safe to express his difficulties in the knowledge that he can avail of assistance when he needs it. According to Carroll (2010), all supervisors are unanimous that teaching is a formal task of supervision. Carroll (2010), states about counselling that in general, supervisors will deal with the personal reactions of the counsellors to their therapeutic work with their clients.

Supervisors monitor professional /ethical issues for the welfare of the client and the professional development of the Guidance Counsellor. According to Carroll (2010), there is a lack of clarity about how evaluation is carried out and what criteria should be used. He goes onto say that consultancy best describes the whole process in supervision as it considers all the relationships in supervision. All supervisors agree that the administrative task in supervision is necessary, however they differ in their approach to its implementation.

There are many forms of supervision and the form that is used depends on the context in which supervision is taking place. Below is a brief overview from Carroll (2010) on these forms. Managerial, administrative, training, groupwork, consultative, non-managerial, self-supervision, organisational, individual, Individual supervision in a group setting, group, peer group, staff and dual.

Personal Values, Beliefs and Life Experiences

My personal values, beliefs and life experiences have been influenced by the western culture in which I grew up. I believe in supervising trans-culturally whether the Guidance Counsellor or the client is from a different culture. The Seven-Eyed Supervisor Model is conscious of the role culture plays throughout the process. It does this by being aware of where the client is from, how he presents himself and his cultural mores.

This Model also focuses on the cultural assumptions of the Guidance Counsellor, counter- transference and parallel process in all relationships. It considers the cultural norms of the organisation in which the work is done. I was in a supervision group recently and the client under discussion was a foreign national. While we were brainstorming suggested ways forward, I reminded the group of the importance of being culturally aware.

Ethical, Legal, Clinical and Contextual Issues as they pertain to IGC best practice.

The IGC have three abiding principles. These are “Ethic of autonomy, Ethic of welfare and Ethic of trust” Dunne (2010). The legal responsibility of the supervisor entails following the guidelines produced by the Department of Education, in the publication Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. This gives best practise guidelines on working with children who are at risk of abuse. The supervisor is legally obliged to keep notes of supervision, as is the Guidance Counsellor. When working with minors, notes must be kept for seven years after they turn eighteen. It is important that the notes refer to what actually occurred in the session and that they are dated and have the time of consultation on them. Notes need to be kept in a safe place, preferably the principle of “double locking” where the notes are kept in a locked cabinet in a locked room Creaner (2010).

 I am aware from my supervision group, that constricting factors operate in some schools, such as lack of support and understanding of the demands of the counselling portfolio. I see my role as supervisor to support the Guidance Counsellor in helping him see his way forward. National supervision within the IGC was rolled out in 2005, so it is still relatively new. In addition, the time allocation of 2 hours 5 times a year for up to 8 people, has limitations. However, it is positive that there is supervision available.

Notes from Recent Supervision Literature

Carroll (2010) refers to “zero learning”, by that, he means where the Guidance Counsellor has learned nothing from the supervisor’s intervention, as he is at a different learning stage. The Seven- Eyed- Supervisor Model is conscious that any interventions made, is appropriate to Guidance Counsellor development. I think that, for learning to be effective it, must take place when the Guidance Counsellor is ready.

I believe that if the Guidance Counsellor feels safe and is in a trusting environment, he will gain in experience and professional growth. Therefore, it is important to create that experience.

Strozier et al. (1993) examining the cognitive aspects of supervision, found that along with challenge, an environment that provides support facilitates supervisee development and that supervisees’ experience of support was a result of supervisors focusing on the relationship between them both” (Wheeler & Richards, 2007, p.62).
There is a lot of discussion whether a supervisor should use a facilitative or a didactic approach. According to Lizzio, Stokes, & Wilson, (2005) supervision should be supervisee orientated, whether it is a didactic or a facilitative approach. From my own perspective, I believe this to be true.


Supervision is a multi-layered, multi-faceted human interaction that ensures client and guidance counsellor development. I hope that I have represented in the above essay, the complexities of the relationships that exist within it.

In summary, I agree with Carroll (2009) when he says
Learning in supervision is transformational not just transmissional, i.e., it results in a change of mindset, or behaviour rather than simply be the transfer of ideas or knowledge alone. To know and not to act is not to know (proverb).


Carroll, M. (2009). Clinical Supervision: Transformational Learning. Retrieved January Monday, 2011, from

Carroll, M. (2010). Counselling Supervision Theory, Skills and Practice. London: Sage Publicationa Ltd.

Carroll, M. (2009). Clinical Superviaion: Transformational Learning.

Carroll, M. (2009). Supervision: Critical Reflection for Transformational Learning, Part 1.

Creaner, M. (2010). Administration and Record keeping in Supervision. Mary Creaner.

Davis, A. (2009). Group Supervision Evaluation, Data Analysis Report.

Dunne, A. (2010). The IGC Supervision Project, The Story So Far. IGC.

Grant, J., & Schofield, M. (2007). Career-long supervision: Patterns and perspectives. 2.


Hawkins, P., & Shohet, R. (2010). Supervision In The Helping Professions. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Lizzio, A., Stokes, L., & Wilson, K. (2005). 'Approaches to learning in professional supervision: supervisee perceptions of'processes and outcome. Studies in Continuing Education , 239 - 256.

Wheeler, S. (2007). The impact of Clinical Supervision on Counsellors and therapists, their practise and their clients. A systematic review of the literature. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research , 62.

Worthington, E. L. (2006). Changes in Supervision as Counselors and Supervisors Gain. Training and Education in Professional Psychology , 133-160.

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