Extract from the Ethical Framework

60. Supervision is essential to how practitioners sustain good practice throughout their working life. Supervision provides practitioners with regular and ongoing opportunities to reflect in depth about all aspects of their practice in order to work as effectively, safely and ethically as possible. Supervision also sustains the personal resourcefulness required to undertake the work.

61. Good supervision is much more than case management. It includes working in depth on the relationship between practitioner and client in order to work towards desired outcomes and positive effects. This requires adequate levels of privacy, safety and containment for the supervisee to undertake this work. Therefore a substantial part or preferably all of supervision needs to be independent of line management.

62. Supervision requires additional skills and knowledge to those used for providing services directly to clients. Therefore supervisors require adequate levels of expertise acquired through training and/or experience. Supervisors will also ensure that they work with appropriate professional support and their own supervision.

63. All supervisors will model high levels of good practice for the work they supervise, particularly with regard to expected levels of competence and professionalism, relationship building, the management of personal boundaries, any dual relationships, conflicts of interest and avoiding exploitation.

64. All communications concerning clients made in the context of supervision will be consistent with confidentiality agreements with the clients concerned and compatible with any applicable agency policy.

65. Careful consideration will be given to the undertaking of key responsibilities for clients and how these responsibilities are allocated between the supervisor, supervisee and any line manager or others with responsibilities for the service provided. Consideration needs to be given to how any of these arrangements and responsibilities will be communicated to clients in ways that are supportive of and appropriate to the work being undertaken. These arrangements will usually be reviewed at least once a year, or more frequently if required.

66. Trainee supervision will require the supervisor to collaborate with training and placement providers in order to ensure that the trainee’s work with clients satisfies professional standards. The arrangements for collaboration will usually be agreed and discussed with the trainee in advance of working with clients.

67. When supervising qualified and/or experienced practitioners, the weight of responsibility for ensuring that the supervisee’s work meets professional standards will primarily rest with the supervisee.

68. Supervisors and supervisees will periodically consider how responsibility for work with clients is implemented in practice and how any difficulties or concerns are being addressed.

69. The application of this Ethical Framework to the work with clients will be discussed in supervision regularly and not less than once a year.

70. Supervisors will conscientiously consider the application of the law concerning supervision to their role and responsibilities.

71. Supervisors will keep accurate records of key points discussed in supervision.

72. Supervisees have a responsibility to be open and honest in supervision and to draw attention to any significant difficulties or challenges that they may be facing in their work with clients. Supervisors are responsible for providing opportunities for their supervisees to discuss any of their practice-related difficulties without blame or unjustified criticism and, when appropriate, to support their supervisees in taking positive actions to resolve difficulties.

73. Supervision is recommended to anyone working in roles that require regularly giving or receiving emotionally challenging communications, or engaging in relationally complex and challenging roles.


What does ‘substantial part of’ mean in the requirement that 'a substantial part or preferably all of the supervision needs to be independent of line management'?

A substantial part is that which is sufficient to respect the privacy, safety and containment of the practitioner independently of line management. In practice, in some contexts supervision is nearly always wholly independent of line management, but that isn’t universally possible or sometimes desirable. We are trying to protect a significant amount of space for practitioners, where they can talk freely, in private, in a defined and boundaried relationship in order to gain the support they need to provide a sustainable and resilient service to their clients.

What is ‘adequate levels of expertise’ for supervisors?

Being a supervisor is an expert role which requires skills over and above those of being a practitioner. However, those competencies are beyond the scope of the Ethical Framework, so members need to look at the supporting resources. Clearly training, and having the appropriate knowledge base for undertaking this role, is a major component of providing effective supervision.