Ways in Which Clinical Supervision Impacts Practice as an Experienced Counselling Psychologist: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

  • Lucy Kerr

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


linical supervision is viewed as being an essential and integral part of both trainee and experienced therapists’ development. The cultural shift towards Evidence Based Practice has led to increased practitioner accountability and a requirement to ensure that patients gain access to the best-available mental health care. Supervision is heralded as the vehicle through which best practice can be obtained and, as a result, a strong demand for more research to support supervision practice has emerged. Most of the existing research is based on trainees with very little attention given to the views of more experienced or ‘expert’ practitioners. This study aimed to explore ways in which clinical supervision impacts the practice of experienced Counselling Psychologists by asking seven experienced practitioners (with 7-31 years of post-accreditation experience) to describe how they see their lived experience of supervision as having helped or hindered their practice. Data were collected using open-ended semi-structured interviews and were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Participants’ experiences clustered into three superordinate themes: a) Factors which Help Supervisee; b) Factors which Hinder Supervisee; and c) Impact on Working with Clients. The empirical findings suggest that clinical supervision can have both a helpful and hindering impact on practice and that experience-levels play a significant role in determining the way in which learning in supervision is viewed and experienced, the attitude with which supervision is approached, and the expectations of the supervisory alliance. In particular, these experienced practitioners adopted an open, flexible, curious and sometimes humorous attitude towards learning in supervision, valuing supervisor flexibility and insight whilst deploring supervisor rigidity. Furthermore, these experienced practitioners did not express a need or desire for a mutually strong supervisory alliance in supervision. Rather, the analysis revealed a one-way need to be able to trust and respect the supervisor for his/her insight and expertise. Findings are discussed in relation to existing literature and research. In addition, questions are raised about the positivist approach to knowledge which underpins most supervision research and it is argued that a broader conceptualization of knowledge might serve to expand our understanding of this important phenomenon. Implications for counselling psychology and for further research are explored.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorKarin Moser (Supervisor) & Julia Cayne (Supervisor)

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