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How Do I Choose The Right Professional Counselling Supervisor in Australia?

by | Professional Supervision

Introduction

Supervision is super important in the counselling profession. It helps ensure quality care and professional growth. If you’re an Australian counsellor, you probably know that supervision is a must for registration with ACA and PACFA. But beyond that, it’s a critical support system. This guide will help you choose the right professional counselling supervisor, making informed decisions to boost your practice and client outcomes.

“Counselling supervision is a formal relationship where a trainee or qualified counsellor presents their work to learn how to work more effectively with clients. This arrangement provides an opportunity for clients to get the best help possible and aids the professional development of the counsellor” (Armstrong & Pelling).

Why choosing the right supervisor is crucial

Finding the right supervisor is just as important as finding the right counsellor. Many counsellors end up with supervisors who aren’t a good fit due to mismatched personalities, styles, or skill sets. Just like counsellors can’t meet the needs of all clients, supervisors can’t be all things to all counsellors.

A supervisor should cover general counselling aspects like ethics, legalities, administration, and client care, but they might not excel in every specialty. It’s perfectly fine to have multiple supervisors for different specialisations. A good supervisor should be open to an introductory chat to see if you’re a good fit. Supervision should be supportive and encouraging, yet challenging. It should help you grow professionally and self-aware while ensuring clients get the best care.

Key Qualities of an Effective Professional Counselling Supervisor

A good supervisor should have more experience than you and have completed a supervision training program that meets ACA or PACFA training standards. They should be registered counsellors, ideally with membership in ACA or PACFA’s college of supervisors. This shows their commitment to ethical practice and professional development. The Australasian Association of Supervision is also another very credible supervision association

Supervisors should also engage in regular supervision for their supervisory work. This keeps them effective and updated. It’s important to ask potential supervisors about their supervision practices and their own supervisor’s qualifications.

Supervisors should be approachable and understanding of different stages in a counsellor’s career. They should adjust their approach based on your experience, offering more guidance to students and recent graduates, while empowering and challenging experienced counsellors. They should be kind, uplifting, and ready to accept responsibility for the work they oversee.

 


Qualifications and Experience

Professional counselling supervisor should have recognised qualifications in counselling, not psychology or social work, as these are different disciplines. Suitable supervision training and membership in ACA or PACFA’s college of supervisors are key indicators of their commitment. Continuous professional development through extra training or OPD and regular supervision on supervision are also crucial.

Suitability and Specialisation

Supervision needs to be a good fit – the relationship between counsellor and supervisor is imperative to the success of the the supervision and the growth and development of the counsellor. Asking the supervisor to engage in a ‘meet and greet’ session can be a great way to see if you are suitable to work together and whether you ‘gel’. If the professional counselling supervisor runs regular group supervision this is a great cost-effective way to meet the supervisor and see how they work.

It’s just as important to ensure your supervisor has skills that match your specialisations. For instance, if you work in couples counselling, your supervisor should have relevant experience. Similarly, if you want to grow your counselling business, find a supervisor who has successfully run a business.

Practical Considerations

While in-person supervision is common in employment settings, many prefer online supervision via platforms like Zoom. This expands your options across Australia and beyond. It’s important to organise your time effectively and book supervision sessions in advance.

Costs for supervision can vary widely, from $50 to $360. High fees don’t always mean better quality, and low fees don’t mean inexperience. Understand what you’re paying for. Supervisors have different business models and value propositions, so ask about their pricing and what makes their service unique. Remember, supervision is an essential expense, even if your workplace doesn’t cover it.

Most supervision is conducted and paid for session by session as that is the most practical method, however some supervisors provide packages of sessions, particularly group, where the counsellor is required to pay up front for several sessions. Reading the fine print is important to ensure that a refund is offered if you find that you are not a good fit with the supervisor. 

Assessing a supervisor’s communication style is crucial for a good fit. Both parties need to be open to giving and receiving feedback with kindness and respect. Constructive feedback is vital, but there’s no place for harsh or demeaning comments in supervision. Professional counselling supervisor must sometimes give difficult feedback required by law or ethics, but this should always be done to maintain confidence and the safety of clients, counsellors, and supervisors.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Finding a good supervisor can be a bit of trial and error. Joining group supervision, if offered, can be a great way to dip a toe in the water and see a supervisor’s style. This is more cost-effective and can still meet supervision requirements. Word of mouth is powerful—ask colleagues for recommendations. Many of my supervisees come to me through word of mouth.

If you find there is tension or concerns with the professional counselling supervisor then using your conflict resolution skills to have an open discussion to address these concerns – this is part of professional life and essential aspect of being a counsellor. We are not always going to like what others have to say but it needs to be said from a place of genuine care and concern for the counsellors professional career and personal well-being. 

Conclusion

Choosing the right professional counselling supervisor is crucial for your professional development and client care. Take the time to find a supervisor who fits your needs and supports your growth. If you have further questions or need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Ready to take the next step in your counselling journey?

Choosing the right counselling supervisor is crucial for your professional development and client care. At Seasons of Life Supervision and Training, we understand the importance of finding a supportive, knowledgeable, and experienced supervisor. Whether you’re looking for individual supervision tailored to your specific needs or the collaborative experience of group supervision, we are here to help you grow and succeed in your counselling practice.

Book Your Supervision Session Today!

Book your FREE 30 minute supervision enquiry call to ensure we are the right fit!

Experience the benefits of expert professional counselling supervision with Penny Adams and join a community of counsellors dedicated to excellence. Penny offers the following supervision: 

Individual Supervision:

  • Feel supported in your career and practice
  • Personalised guidance and support
  • Focus on your unique challenges and goals
  • Affordable supervision

Group Supervision:

  • Learn from and with your peers
  • Feel connected in what can be a lonely space
  • Diverse perspectives and collaborative problem-solving
  • Cost-effective 
  • Enriching group discussions

Don’t wait to enhance your practice and ensure the best outcomes for your clients. Contact us now to book your supervision session and embark on a path of continuous professional growth.

penny adams and her dog

 

Penny is the founder of Seasons of Life Supervision and Training. With over 7 years of extensive supervisory experience and hundreds of hours in practice, I specialise in providing high-quality, accessible supervision for Australian counsellors and counselling students. My goal is to ensure that quality supervision is within reach for all counsellors, helping you excel in your practice and career.

My expertise is backed by a Bachelor’s degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling as well as additional qualifications in counselling, youth work and training and assessing

I am a Level 4 member of the Australian Counselling Association and a member of the College of Supervisors. Currently, I am further enhancing my skills by pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Professional Supervision. I am also train counsellors to become supervisors utilising the very popular Rise Up Model of Supervision

At Seasons of Life Supervision and Training, we believe in providing affordable, accessible, and approachable supervision. Our mission is to equip the next generation of counsellors with best practices and ethical care, fostering their professional growth and ensuring they thrive in their careers.

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