Why therapists and counsellors should
have professional supervision
The importance of supervision in maintaining the best possible therapy
If you are seeking counselling or psychotherapy, you might not be aware of the supervision system for therapists that exists as a formal support structure to ensure their professional practice and the well-being of both themselves and the client. Supervision adds a great deal to the quality of therapy provision and to the already important qualifications of the therapist.
So, it continues to amaze me that, in many of the therapeutic professions, supervision is not mandatory. Yet, its importance in supporting the therapist and providing professional and personal development is undisputed.
As a professional supervisor myself, I acknowledge the importance of my own supervision, as it allows me a ‘safe space’ to explore my own self-development and self-awareness. It assists me in my own professional development.
The nature of therapy work is always evolving in that we have to keep learning to work with our clients who are struggling with new challenges all the time. Some months ago, understanding the impact of a pandemic was not required, however, this steep learning curve has been negotiated by all therapists since. Even before this, I had begun to notice an increase in my clients with transgender issues, a topic that 10 years ago I had never encountered. Having a supervisor to explore our new challenges as therapists can help us to access the self-development resources we need in order to help our clients.
But, supervision goes much deeper than this. For the newly qualified therapist, being able to access advice and learning from an experienced supervisor helps them to develop quickly and meet the needs of clients, whilst ensuring they continue to work within their area of competence.
One might argue that, for the more experienced therapist, this is equally as important - to ensure our analytical skills remain sharp and we don’t become complacent about therapy, making assumptions about clients or lowering boundaries. That ‘extra pair of eyes’ on an issue is paramount to ensure we are working responsibly with our clients.
I worry for those therapists (and their clients) who feel they have learned all they need to, and risk gradually losing their skills and competence over time. It can be a lonely world for the therapist who may not get the opportunity to explore new trends or challenges with colleagues. The majority of counsellors and psychotherapists do not have colleagues that they can have a daily coffee and chat with to discuss share concerns.
In the pandemic period, it concerns me that caregivers and supporters may experience compassion fatigue and themselves require support to ensure they continue to provide their usual high-quality service.
Additionally, as supervision also covers the discipline of ‘practice building’, what small therapy business owner wouldn’t want the advice and expertise of an experienced therapist to help them to increase clients and develop their practices? Therefore, I hope in the future one of the questions people ask before embarking on therapy and sourcing a therapist or counsellor will be that very important question – do you have regular supervision?