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What are the BACP supervision guidelines for counsellors?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

As a guideline the BACP recommend 1.5 hours of supervision per month for counsellors who are in full time practice.

That said, a counsellor’s level of experience and/or they type of work/client group they are engaging with may affect how much supervision is required.

The number of hours and frequency of supervision should be discussed and agreed directly with the supervisor.

It is advised that a supervisor should be experienced in the type of work being carried out by the supervisee (e.g. working with Children & Young People or Complex trauma.)

Training to be a supervisor seemed like a natural progression after nearly a decade of practicing as a counsellor in schools and private practice. I felt that over this time the training and experience gained could be valuable to other counsellors and therapist, especially working in the education sector.

Schools have their unique, rewarding but challenging way of working and navigating this takes time and a flexible approach. We need to be ready to take on a different challenge every day. I love the feel of the unpredictability of working with children and young people, you never know what will come up in your sessions or completely understand the importance of your presence as part of their life journey.

The thing to remember when working in school is that you are not alone, just part of a bigger picture of a supporting community, working with children and young people that need a safe space to just be. There might be little advice involved but your presence holds the therapeutic space for them to process what sometimes words alone cannot do.

Deep and meaningful work brings up our own triggers, so as we hold space for our clients, can we hold space for ourselves until such time as we can enter the safe space of supervision ? Showing compassion to our parts that have been wounded or hurt means we can show compassion to our clients. Supervision can be validating and reinforcing and, in many ways, offers an opportunity to hear a different interpretation of my client’s story. I want to offer my supervisee’s the space to process their work but also be curious about how that work has impacted them.

Supervision is crucial and ethical when working with clients. We must hold ourselves to account and respectfully manage our workload as well as fact check our own beliefs and our own unconscious bias that can get in the way of us working towards providing as a non-judgmental space as we can. Of course, we cannot always ultimately reach that point of being non-judgmental in every session but having the presence to understand what is happening and manage our own stuff is crucial to being an ethical practitioner.

Overall, I see supervision as the therapist space to step back but also step into the client’s experience, looking at the client’s story from a distance rather than being submerged in the narrative. It provides self-care and ultimately a subjective space to process what is happening for both client and therapist. I look forward to my supervision sessions and value the advice and support that is offered. I hope that I can provide the same opportunities to the counsellors and therapist that may choose to work with me.

Justine Briggs


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