Category Archives: Personal perspective

Building a positive relationship between supervisor and supervisee

Positive Supervisee Relationship

A positive relationship between supervisor and supervisee is important. Millar, Holloway and Henderson (2014) say that encouragement is at the heart of a counselling supervisory relationship. They emphasise the need to build an equal relationship. So how is a positive relationship between supervisor and supervisee achieved?

Maintaining ethics

A contract between the counsellor and supervisor is essential. Not only does it ensure boundaries are kept but enables a solid working alliance between the supervisor and supervisee. A contract should be underpinned by an ethical framework, such as the BACP framework. This allows the supervisee to explore freely their fears and reflections on their work. Additionally it encourages the supervisor to reflect in-depth on whether they are maintaining a balance between taking appropriate responsibility for the supervisees work and the clients well being. Alongside this supervisors need to question themselves to whether they are competent to supervise the work. The ethical framework encourages good practice on both sides.

Working partnership

A cooperative working partnership is essential. It enables the supervisee to inspire to be the best counsellor and ensure the supervisor guides the counsellor to reflect rather than ‘police’ the supervisees’ work. Yes, the supervisor will have more experience but she/he must not show inferiority or superiority or it will destroy the balance of the relationship. It is not helpful for the supervisor to always say ‘this is how I do things’. Supervisors need to encourage supervisees to expose themselves to problematic issues to allow them to work their own way forward and to reflect on how they are doing. A supervisee does not want to be compared with their supervisors work or be told what to do. They want and need an equal professional relationship. This needs honesty on both sides. Both parties need to feel free to say how they are doing in their work (especially if it exposes vulnerabilities) and how they feel about the supervisory relationship. Challenges from both sides need to be embraced as an opportunity to grow rather than being seen as a criticism.

Explore and Reflect

Exploration and enabling the supervisee to explore what is going on is an important part of supervision. It is tempting as supervisor to respond with our own theories, interpretations and answers. However, supervisors need to encourage supervisees to explore and gain insight by asking respectful and leading questions. This helps supervisees conclude on their own to how they are doing and what they could do more effectively. Often questions that focus on past experiences, including positive ones can help encourage a new perspective.


can be helpful for a supervisee. Supervisors need to support the supervisee to have the courage to be imperfect. Honest, encouraging feedback will help educate and develop the supervisee. When we trained as counsellors we learnt about constructive feedback – always sandwich bad comments in between good ones. Supervisors need to do the same – highlight the counsellors strengths before presenting areas for development and change. When feeding back the negative, supervisors need to focus on what the person is doing rather than comparing or criticising. In other words avoiding words such as ‘unethical’, ‘non-empathetic’. Descriptive feedback allows the supervisee to see what they have been doing. It is always better to ask a supervisee if they would like to hear what your own views. Remember you want to keep the relationship equal.


Supervisors need to encourage the supervisee to assess their competencies and effectiveness. However, in addition they need to reflect on their own effectiveness. There needs to be opportunity for feedback on both sides. Also supervisors can reflect in their own supervision, as well as develop their own professional development.

A supervisory relationship needs to grow.

As Millar, Holloway and Henderson say…. We all have tendencies to move into judging and defensive positions at times, and we all make mistakes. When we can embrace these moments with compassion, it is gratifying to realise that they offer great opportunities for professional growth.

Anthea Millar, Jim Holloway, Penny Henderson ‘Becoming an encouraging Supervisor, Private Practice BACP, Spring 2014

Miller, Holloway & Henderson Practical Supervisor Helping Professions

Hazel is an experienced supervisor and presently has a free slot available for online supervision. Ring or text 07814 363855 for more details.

Changes in Counselling Profession

I have seen various developments and changes within counselling profession over the last 15 years. More courses are available, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) membership has vastly increased and more counsellors are becoming private practitioners.  Counsellors and organisations have to market themselves and approach their counselling work with a business head. Online Continue reading

The Stigma of Mental Health

Experiencing stigma of mental health

stigma mental healthThe other month, I was in a meeting of a social group. One member (who I shall call Katie) was told the group that they were physically unwell. The general response from the group was advising Katie to take it easy with a few people offered to help her out with her set tasks. Another member (Harriet) mentioned they suffered from anxiety. Alarming, than rather asking Harriet how they could best support her with her anxiety, a member suggested that they should put themselves in a situation where they feel anxious to help them overcome it Continue reading

Regulation of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling regulationShould counselling and Psychotherapy be regulated?

This question started for me when I was training to be a counsellor back in 2003. It was often debated amongst my peers as there were some who against regulation. I have always been in favour of regulation and was disappointed when it was decided by Health Professional Regulation not to regulate counselling. Instead a new Accredited Register (AR) scheme for health care professionals was launched by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) at the end of 2012.

Lately, a colleague Amanda Williamson who herself suffered abuse whilst being counselled (and successfully got the said person struck off the BACP register) and Philip Dore’s website Unsafe Spaces have re-opened the debate on counselling regulation. You can read Amanda’s stance for regulation here.

Where do I stand?

I believe that regulation Continue reading

Life experience shaping a counsellor

life experience shaping a counsellorSelf-awareness grows over a period of time and with exploration.  My self-awareness has been shaped by my life experiences, through the help of counselling and through self-reflection.  This has helped me to learn to understand myself, my reactions and understand my own values.  In my early twenties I experienced a traumatic bereavement and I will demonstrate how this life experience shaped me as a counsellor. Continue reading

Self-disclosure of a counsellor

self disclosure of counsellorsIn order for a counsellor to remain focused on the client, self-disclosure during a session is not encouraged. Self-disclosure is sharing information with your client that they would not know about you. It is generally felt that self-disclosure of a counsellor may get in the way of the client’s journey. The counsellor’s past and issues, if disclosed to a client, may ruin the trust between the counsellor and the client or it may influence the client in their decision making.

Continue reading

What is integrative counselling?

what is integrative counsellingIt is often confusing hearing about different counselling models that counsellor’s use –  Person-centred, psychodynamic, Transactional Analyse, integrative counselling etc. Which one will work and how do you choose?  I personally feel each model has its own value and can work for all types of different problems. The important part is that the counsellor is committed to their counselling model and their values. I am an integrative counsellor. Often my clients say to me that initially whether they feel heard and connected to the counsellor helps them decide whether they continue with the counselling. So what is integrative counselling? Continue reading