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S.H.A.S.T.D. recommendations for counselling supervision.

Receiving regular counselling supervision is intrinsic to the work of the Health Adviser. It is distinct from yet complements both managerial supervision and clinical supervision given by colleagues. Health Advisers have a counselling role and use counselling skills when dealing with clients who have issues with HIV/AIDS, STD's, sexual assault, sexual abuse, relationship problems and sexuality. Counselling supervision can enhance and maintain good practice, develop professional skills and provide essential support in an emotionally demanding and complex role.


Counselling supervision:

" is for people involved in work ,which contains significant elements of counselling ,it is a term given to consultation ( often ongoing) ......... to help one think about issues connected with client work, including the impact this has on the practitioner ....... many people see supervision as supporting the kind of reflective learning that underpins the continual improvement of practice" Leach (1935)

Counselling supervision offers benefits to the Health Adviser, to the client and to the agency as a whole. By improving skills and communication and reducing stress in the Health Adviser, the intention is to maximize the therapeutic quality of interactions and also to decrease staff turnover decreasing levels of staff sickness, turnover and burnout.

British Association for Counselling (BAC) code of ethics and practice for counsellors state that it is a:

'' breach of the ethical requirement for counsellors to practice without regular counselling supervision / consultative support "

In line with BAC guidance on best practice SHASTD recommend counselling supervision should not be undertaken by the line manager, although managerial agreement and support are essential when establishing a system of counselling supervision ( if existing lines of clinical and managerial responsibility are not to be undermined). SHASTD recommend that a counselling supervisor should not be an immediate clinical colleague (i.e. should not be clinically involved with the same client as the supervisee). If the counselling supervisor works within the same agency as the supervisee, boundaries, ground rules and expectations must be made clear and adhered to by both parties in the same way as if the counselling supervisor is external to the agency. Although the supervisory relationship is confidential, counselling supervisors are ethically obliged to report practice that endangers clients or supervisees welfare to the line manager if a supervisee fails to take appropriate action themselves.

Counselling supervision can be done in groups or individually. Preferably, supervisors should be eligible for BAC supervisor accreditation. They must at least have extensive supervisory experience and be qualified counsellors, psychotherapists or clinical psychologists.

SHASTD recommend that such supervision should consist of fortnightly (or at least monthly sessions of 50 to 60 minutes, and be done within work time. Where this is not possible it should not be less than monthly. It should be budgeted for within Health Adviser funding.


G. Leach (1995) Making use of supervision : practical and ethical issues"

British Association for Counseliing (1996) Code of ethics and practice for Counsellors

British Association for Counselling (1996) Code of ethics and practice for Supervisors

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