What Makes a Good Clinical Supervisor?
Updated: Apr 28
Clinical supervision is a requirement for practitioners but each supervisor is different. How do you know which supervisor to choose?
Are you considering moving into becoming a supervisor and are wondering if this is something that would suit you?
There isn't a 'one-size fits all' approach to supervision - and this can be a good thing. What suits one supervisee may not suit another. Personality and relationship do need to be considered. However, having said that, there are some general principles on qualities that make a good supervisor:
A good clinical supervisor should have a high level of clinical expertise and experience in the field in which they are supervising. With this depth of experience, gained over time from their own client work, they are able to provide the necessary guidance and feedback support to supervisees.
Good clinical supervisors need to be skilled in three broad areas of communication:
Be effective communicators who can explain complex ideas in a clear and concise manner
Be adept at drawing out responses from supervisees in order to fully understand issues/situations
Be able to actively and attentively listen to their supervisees and provide constructive feedback in a supportive manner.
Supervisees come to supervision for emotional and professional support when dealing with difficult client situations. It follows then, that the supervisor should be able to understand the challenges and stresses that their supervisees may be facing and dealing with. Of course some of this understanding will come from their own experiences but they will also need a level of empathy. This leads on to the next point -
As each supervisee is different and their situations are all unique, a good supervisor should be flexible and adaptable to meet the unique needs of each. The ability to tailor their approach of supervision to meet the specific goals and learning needs of each individual is essential. If there are areas that they are unsure about, a good supervisor will seek assistance from other professionals.
Professional standards and ethics
As you might expect, supervisors should adhere to ethical and professional standards in their own practice. In addition, they should also work with supervisees to develop their own ethical stance, professional philosophy and practice.
Commitment to professional development
Would you really want a supervisor who didn't continue to develop their own knowledge and skills? Probably not. A commitment to ongoing learning and professional development is a sign of curiosity and open mindedness. A good supervisor should continue to stay up-to-date with the latest publications, research and practices in their field, and, above all, encourage their supervisees to do the same.
In summary, a good clinical supervisor will be able to provide a supportive, challenging, and engaging learning environment for their supervisees. Encouraging supervisees in developing the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to be the best practitioner they can be.