A Brief Overview of the History of Counselling Supervision

Very briefly, the development of Counselling Supervision can be broken down in to three main stages. The first stage began with Freud who liked to gather small groups to discuss and review the work of those attending. It is understood that this was a largely informal process before Max Eitington began to formalise the process and make it a requirement in the 1920’s.

Supervision was not just used for therapists but also had groundings in other helping professions.

As the number of counselling/psychotherapy models grew so supervision grew into a second phase of development beginning in the 1950s. Counselling bound or psychotherapy bound supervision in which the supervision models were closely aligned to the model of counselling or psychotherapy being used by the attendees. The line between supervision, counselling and psychotherapy during this stage was often blurred.

The third stage began in the 1970s and brought a greater emphasis on education rather than counselling.  With it came a shift away from the person delivering the therapy and more towards the work carried out. It was from America that much of the research and development of Supervision models came. With them came a shift towards the ‘reflective practitioner’ as Supervision became more and more a reflection on practice. Much of the Supervision practice we see now in the UK for counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy came from models and frameworks that developed in America.

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