The Challenges of Providing Clinical Supervision in a Guest Setting

Clinical supervision models and perspectives can provider a better understanding of how this service is viewed.

The National Association of Social Work (NASW) has also defined clinical supervision as educational. “This type of supervision established a learning alliance between the supervisor and supervisee in which the supervisee learns therapeutic skills while developing self-awareness at the same time.”

Additionally they write, “Supportive supervision is concerned with increasing job performance by decreasing job related stress that interferes with work performance.”

The Cambridgeshire County Council has established Four Functions of Supervision: management, learning and development, support and negotiation.

The council states that these functions are interdependent and overlap.

1- Management: The worker is being held accountable for following the procedures and policies.

2-Learning and Development: They write that the goal is to encourage and assist staff in clinical reflection and understanding of their own needs in improving their clinical skills.

3.-Support: The supervisor provides support and counseling within the identified boundaries as regulated by the term supervision.

4- Negotiation: The supervisor acts as the go-between with the managers about key issues. They are involved in dealing with any disputes, advocating for the staff member and assisting them with any remediation.”

Kadushin focused on three functions of supervision:

Administrative – the promotion and maintenance of good standards of work, co-ordination of practice with policies of administration, the assurance of an efficient and smooth-running office; Educational – the educational development of each individual worker on the staff in a manner calculated to evoke her fully to realize her possibilities of usefulness; and Supportive – the maintenance of harmonious working relationships, the cultivation of esprit de corps.

According to the ACES Task Force Report 1/18/2011, on Best Practices in Clinical Supervision: “the responsibilities include administrative supervision, clinical supervision or both. They define administrative supervision as the “activities which increase the efficiency of the delivery of counseling services and clinical supervision as having a systems focus with program improvement and counselor’ professional developments as its purpose.”

No-Man’s Land

If you look at these reports and models, they do not address the sticky issue of supervision in a host environment or setting. The clinical supervisor, in this setting, has no model to follow. It is the no-man’s land of supervision.

Boundary and Ethical Issues to Consider:

  • How does the supervisor express concerns and issues diplomatically to upper management, without breaching confidentiality of the supervisee?
  • How can the supervisor provide effective critiquing without causing a schism, bad blood between the supervisor and supervisee, especially if it contradicts what is defined as a task, goal and performance criteria in the workplace?
  • Who do you share your concerns about the supervisee with in this setting? Can you go to the manager, without qualms, asking about how the supervisee is performing? Can you get more details about what the supervisee is doing or not? How extensive can your questions be without stepping over invisible boundaries and roles?

 Problems for the Internal Clinical Supervisor

1- Power: The clinical supervisor lacks any direct power in the workplace. His/her skills, purpose and mandate as a clinical supervisor is not necessarily understood.

2- Prestige: The clinical supervisor does not necessarily hold an identifying title. He/she needs to stay focused on the boundaries and trust in the relationship with the supervisee.

3- Position: The clinical supervisor may be in the same position as the supervisee. This situation can pose problems with recognizing the difference in experience and quality of service, the relationship, access to performance reviews and concerns of the manager or supervisor who provide audits of the individual’s work.

4- Prosperity: The clinical supervisor lacks the financial incentive to provide this service and often doesn’t receive recognition for the time and effort involved in providing and planning quality supervision.

Purposes and Abilities of the Internal Clinical Supervisor

1. Problem-solving skills: The clinical supervisor will have to determine ways to develop a formal policy in the workplace for internal supervision.

2. People skills: The clinical supervisor will have to stay alert to the systems in the workplace.

3. Patience: The clinical supervisor must have this in abundance and wait for change, which is difficult, when faced with the political moves within the organization.

4. Persistence: The clinical supervisor needs to stay abreast of the clinical arena and office, provide best practice supervision, at the same time slowly explaining and building the understanding of the upper management about the benefits, specialty and skill set clinical supervision provides to their staff: improving and providing quality skill development and mastery for the supervisee to enhance their performance and abilities to do their jobs more effectively.

It would be strongly recommended that the workplace develop a policy for internal supervision, its inherent responsibilities, roles and policies. This can be accomplished by educating various people in the organization; such as personnel in Human Resources, the director of the department and the manager.

Advocating, in your respective organization, will take time and energy in order to build-up the inherent value that you provide to the staff member(s). It is important to receive and be recognized for the skills and responsibilities and the expertise you bring to the organization.

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The Challenges of Providing Clinical Supervision in a Guest Setting

Jane Rosenblum, LCSW, CCM

Jane Rosenblum, LCSW, CCM is a licensed therapist currently working as a certified case manager. She has extensive experience working with children and geriatric individuals and her 25-year plus career spans settings including medical, psychiatric, substance abuse, home care and schools. Rosenblum is compiling a platform of articles and newsletters that will be found at her site .


APA Reference
Rosenblum, J. (2015). The Challenges of Providing Clinical Supervision in a Guest Setting. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 10 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2015
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