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Effective Clinical Supervision of the Mental Health Professional

Module 1, Part 2: Foundations of Supervision


This course may not be utilized without first making proper payment. Entering this course in an unauthorized manner would represent an ethical violation. 

Supervision Models and Approaches 

Upon completion of this program trainees will: 

  1. Understand the models of clinical supervision
  2. Grasp the important contextual factors in supervision that will inform the focus of the supervisory work.
  3. Comprehend the use of Performance Management in clinical supervision
  4. Comprehend the most important considerations for assessing a supervisee
  5. Learn the key methods and techniques for professional development.


Section 1: Introduction

Section 2: Performance Management and the Supervisory Relationship

Section 3: Why to Choose a Model or Method

Section 4: Methods and Techniques for Professional Development

Section 5: Models of Supervision

Section 6: Psychotherapy-Based Supervision Models of Supervision

Section 7: Bibliography

Section 8: Test


Section I: Introduction

In part 1 of this module on the foundations of supervision, we noted that one of the four elements of sustainable change is concerned with systems and structures. When looking to create new efficiencies, organizations will frequently need to expend time and energy developing systems and structures that fit the organization’s mission and purposes. This can soak up resources of time, energy and money that might otherwise be utilized to support the mission of the organization and the purposes of the supervision.

A better approach to this problem may be to seek out systems and structures that have already been developed and tested for their effectiveness by other organizations. This is the purpose behind exploring supervision models and approaches that are already present in the literature. If a suitable model – or models – can be located that is a good fit for the supervisory work, then it frees up resources for more important purposes. Accordingly, a study of various models of supervision and approaches to supervision will be the focus of this second part of our module on the foundations of clinical supervision.

The expectation is that the trainee will compare the strengths and weaknesses of the various models and approaches in relation to the tasks and responsibilities of the supervisory work currently being engaged in. The model or approach can then either be adopted in a relatively complete state and modified to fit the actual supervisory situation in which the supervisor is engaged, or parts of that model or approach can be integrated with parts of other models and approaches to create a hybrid that is better suited to the actual supervisory situation.


Clinical Counseling Supervision

As we noted in part 1 of this module, supervision is an intervention that has as a key goal of developing and expanding the knowledge and skills of supervisee.We also noted, however, that the supervision must fit the context in which it is occurring. In most organizations that take on newer clinicians, there are practice realities that must be responded to: clients must be seen and their problems addressed with a reasonable degree of competence. Paychecks will be issued, and work performance and conduct considerations will factor into decisions about staff retention, promotion – and termination.  

We noted in our earlier course that some organizations separate the clinical supervision from the administrative supervision to allow for the clinical supervision to be kept somewhat separate from the performance issues as they relate to decisions about retention, promotion and termination. This can promote a higher degree of trust between the supervisor and supervisee, and encourage the supervisee to experience the supervision as more supportive in nature.

However, because the goal of clinical supervision is deeply connected to the kinds of performance improvements that will decrease the likelihood of negative administrative intervention, it is useful to consider how to structure the supervision with performance improvement in mind. Towards this end, the first model to be studied is a model not specifically aimed at clinical counseling supervision, but has been developed for business organizations and the military: Performance Management.