Trainee counsellor? Learn more about clinical supervision

As we enter September and colleges and universities start with their autumn term, many trainee counsellors will be looking for clinical supervisors to support them as they gain clinical experience with clients on placements.


As a trainee counsellor seeing clients for the first time can be daunting, it can be hard to hold all of the things you have learnt in lectures and listen and respond effectively to the client all at once, whilst also holding your own anxiety or concern.

Supervision: What to consider

Below are three tips to consider about supervision before you start your clinical placement.

Research supervisors

Are they someone who aligns with your way of working? Does the supervisor offer an initial meeting where you can meet them and see whether you can work together? Meet a few supervisors until you find someone you are comfortable with.

Think about what is important to you

Consider what's important to you and make sure you ask your supervisor questions before you commit to working with them. For instance:

  • Can you contact the supervisor between sessions? Will they charge for this?
  • Are they happy to fill out the necessary forms and reports for your course? Will this need to be done in sessions? Will you need to pay for extra sessions?
  • How much supervision should you have? A mistake that new counsellors can make is not having enough supervision. What is the requirement of your college and professional body? There have been cases where counsellors have had to repeat clinical hours and supervision because the ration wasn’t enough. Your supervisor may also require that you have a minimum amount of supervision a month no matter how many clients you have.
  • How does your supervisor work and what is their background? Does this meet the criteria of your course?
  • Explore with your supervisor how the sessions will be planned out.

Have a proper supervision session before your first client

Whilst financially you might feel seeing a supervisor before you have seen a client doesn’t make sense, it can make a huge difference to how contained you feel going into your first session. You can use this session to practice and plan out how you might start the session and complete your confidentiality. You can explore and consider any anxiety or worries that you have or issues that you might see arising, such as managing boundaries like time.

When you see a client you're offering them a safe, contained space to explore and deal with their issues. To do this you must also feel contained and safe. Having supportive supervision can help with this and it is your responsibility as a counsellor to put this in place for yourself.

I offer clinical supervision for trainee and qualified counsellors. You can find out more about me and the supervision I offer on my profile. The BACP and UKCP have a number of fact sheets and useful resources on choosing a supervisor, which you can find on their websites.

If you would like to make an appointment with me to explore if I would be the appropriate supervisor for you please get in touch.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Birmingham, West Midlands, B9 4AA
Written by Paul Carter, (BACP Accredited)
Birmingham, West Midlands, B9 4AA

Paul is as a counsellor/psychotherapist, EMDR Practitioner and Clinical Supervisor. To find out more about Paul please visit his website.

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