10.1 General guidelines on supervision
The BPS Guidelines on supervision (Appendix 17) provide a summary of the main
essential components of good quality supervision. Naturally, the type and amount of
supervision needed will depend partly upon the stage of training and partly on the needs
of the trainee. Generally at least 1 - 1½ hours per week plus contact at other times for
joint work or observation is normative. Trainees also need personal support and to be
invited in an appropriately professional way to discuss any personal feelings which may
arise in connection with their clinical work. Not all trainees will wish to do this, but it is
important that the time and opportunity are offered. Opportunities for the trainee to
observe and be observed are also essential.
As the profession becomes more specialised, it is often difficult for one supervisor to
provide the full range of experiences needed. Increasingly placements are created on a
modular basis, with one named supervisor taking a lead role in structuring the placement,
monitoring the trainees' development, and coordinating with other supervisors. Shared
supervision is often highly valued by the trainees, but care should be taken to ensure that
trainees do get the individual attention they need.
The quality of the supervision will depend upon many factors, but the relationship
between the supervisor and the trainee is clearly of central importance. These are some of
the factors which enhance supervision quality:
Weekly, regularly-scheduled, uninterrupted supervision sessions.
An induction for the trainee to help him/her meet key people, understand the
organisation, local politics, local arrangements for working, and start work
Preparedness to discuss personal issues as they arise.
Tolerance on both sides of differences in theoretical orientation.
Empathy for the trainee on the part of the supervisor and a willingness to give
positive as well as negative feedback.
Openness on the part of the trainee to hear and learn from constructive criticism.
Observation (which includes opportunities for the supervisor to model good
practice, and for the trainee to be observed by the supervisor).
A supervisor who will suggest reading material, and discuss it in relation to the
A supervisor who will allow the trainee's concerns to shape the content of