From new vistas to life lines: psychologists' satisfaction with supervision and confidence in supervising.

Research paper by Aisling A McMahon, Darina D Errity

Indexed on: 29 Jan '13Published on: 29 Jan '13Published in: Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy


This study aimed to provide the first detailed survey of Irish psychologists' supervision practices as well as to identify what is related to satisfaction with supervisory support and to confidence in providing supervision. An online survey was distributed nationwide to Irish psychologists. Participants were mostly clinical and counselling psychologists. Three-quarters of the participants constituted 51% of the total population of Irish health service psychologists, the remainder working in various non-health service settings. The results showed that most Irish psychologists attend supervision but at a low frequency, typically once monthly. One-third were dissatisfied with their supervision, greater satisfaction being related to having more frequent clinical supervision and having external individual clinical supervision. Having a safe and trustworthy relationship with supervisors was a dominant issue, and two-thirds of psychologists wanted separation of their clinical and line management supervision. Although 70% were supervisors, only 40% were confident in their supervisory skills and just 16% had formal supervisor training. Independent predictors of supervisory confidence were experience as a psychologist, having formal supervisor training, experience as a supervisor and confidence as a therapist. A novel finding was that longer experience of personal therapy was related to greater confidence as a supervisor. This study indicates the need for access to more frequent clinical supervision to be facilitated for psychologists and for there to be clear separation of line management and clinical supervision. It is also essential that more resources are put into training supervisors.While most psychologists are engaged in supervision, frequency of attendance is low, with more satisfied psychologists having more frequent supervision. Most psychologists want separation of their clinical and line management supervision and have a preference for external supervision, safe and trustworthy relationships with supervisors being their primary concern. Only 16% of psychologists had formal training in supervision but having such training significantly contributed to greater confidence as a supervisor, indicating an urgent need to provide more supervisor training for psychologists.