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  • jane@northside

Reflection - an essential component within the clinical supervision structure

Updated: Feb 27

therapist doing reflection in supervision

Reflection is one of the key components within clinical supervision. It is foundational to understanding, evaluating and developing our professional skills as therapists and as people. So, what is reflection? Why is it so important?

What is reflection?

Reflection within clinical supervision refers to the process of exploring the therapists' thoughts, feelings, and behaviour related to their work with clients. It involves looking closely at experiences with clients and celebrating successes as well as identifying areas for growth and development. The overall aim is to promote self-awareness, enhance learning and improve the effectiveness of treatment.

A supervision session can include creative ways of encouraging the reflective process and may include: group supervision sessions, theoretical and real case discussions, self-reflection questions and exercises. Its important to note that for the supervisee to be open about their reflections and the reflective process, there must be trust with the supervisor. Where this trust relationship is not present, neither party will get the best outcome.

Areas included in the review process may be:

  • Exploring reactions to clients and their presenting issue(s)

  • Exploring ethical and legal implications

  • Considering the effectiveness of the treatment plan and interventions

  • Identifying assumptions and biases and the impact of personal experience and values on work with clients

  • A plan for professional development and support

Why is reflection in supervision important?

By taking the time to reflect, we can gain deeper insights into our work, ourselves and our lives, which in turn leads to personal growth. In a team working situation our colleagues and line manager might facilitate the review process. However, the majority of counsellors and therapists work alone. The reflective element in the clinical supervision structure gives us tools to review our effectiveness and our work with individuals, groups or organisations through:

Developing self-awareness

As we become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour related to the work we are doing with clients, we are more able to identify areas where we may need additional support or training, and can also help develop strategies for addressing challenging situations.

Promoting professional growth

Identifying areas for growth and setting plans for development means that we are more likely to achieve development goals in both the professional and the personal arenas of our lives.

Reviewing emotional support

Working as a practitioner can be challenging and emotionally demanding. Its easy to overlook our own welfare and forget the impact that our own mental and physical health has on our client work. Reviewing our emotional responses and reactions and the impact on our professional and personal lives can help with monitoring and managing our resilience levels and addressing problem areas proactively.

Commitment to ongoing learning

Without reflection, we don't learn from experiences. Exploring our work in a structured way helps with honing our skills as practitioners. Integrating knowledge into practice and then reviewing what we are doing and why enhances our effectiveness as professionals. Ultimately, this makes for a better outcome for our clients.

Overall, using the reflective process within clinical supervision gives us the means to be more effective in what we do, a mechanism for our managing professional development and the structure to ensure we have the emotional support we need for working in a demanding role.


See our calendar for related events. You might also want to check out the Diploma in Supervision.


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