Clinical supervision: a brief overview

A set of principles to help you develop systems of clinical supervision in the workplace.

An often cited definition of clinical supervision (from a nursing perspective) is:

'An exchange between practising professionals to enable the development of professional skills'.

This aligns nicely with an outcomes-based approach to continual professional development (CPD).  It is the approach advocated both in the HCPC's expectations of registrants and the CSP's expectations of it's members

Clinical supervision should:

  • Support and enhance practice for the benefit of patients/service users
  • Develop skills in reflection, to narrow the gap between theory and practice
  • Involve a supervisor and practitioner (or group of practitioners) reflecting on and critically evaluating practice
  • Be distinct from formal line management supervision and appraisal
  • Be planned, systematic and conducted within agreed boundaries
  • Be explicit about the public and confidential elements of the process
  • Allow for clear and unambiguous communication, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect
  • Define an outcomes-based action plan (the outcomes could then be more broadly developed to assist the practitioner’s professional development through the appraisal process)
  • Be evaluated against standards set at the time it is initially developed and implemented

 The supervision process should:

  • Involve all individuals in the service, be signed-up to by staff and supported and resourced by management
  • Be developed in partnership with managers and practitioners
  • Be supported by appropriate resources (time, training, replacement staff)
  • Allow the practitioner access to their chosen model of supervision, as appropriate
  • Support a local system for supervisors to further develop their skills in facilitation
  • Be developed in parallel with collating a portfolio of learning, so that the practitioner is supported to develop and demonstrate skills of reflection and can show evidence of learning from experience.

To learn more and view other suggested resources, CSP members can download the PDF guideline below.