Clinical supervision in four mental health professions: A review of the evidence

Susan H. Spence*, Jill Wilson, David Kavanagh, Jenny Strong, Linda Worrall

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    101 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines a range of theoretical issues and the empirical evidence relating to clinical supervision in four mental health professions, namely clinical psychology, occupational therapy, social work, and speech pathology. Despite the widespread acceptance of the value of supervision among practitioners and the large quantity of literature on the topic, there is very little empirical evidence in this area. It is not clear whether supervision actually produces a change in clinician behaviour, nor whether it produces benefits in terms of client outcomes. To date, there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate which styles of supervision are most beneficial for particular types of staff, in terms of their level of experience or learning style. The data suggest that directive forms of supervision, rather than unstructured approaches, are preferred by relatively inexperienced practitioners, and that experienced clinicians also value direct supervision methods when learning new skills or dealing with complex or crisis situations. The available evidence suggests that supervisors typically receive little training in supervision methods. However, to date, we have little information to guide us as to the most effective ways of training supervisors. While acknowledging the urgent need for research, the paper concludes that supervision is likely to form a valuable component of professional development for mental health professionals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-155
    Number of pages21
    JournalBehaviour Change
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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