Academic journal article Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

Supervising Cognitive Psychotherapy and Training Supervisors

Academic journal article Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

Supervising Cognitive Psychotherapy and Training Supervisors

Article excerpt

Independent of theoretical orientation, most schools of psychotherapy rightly regard supervision as one of the most important components of the training of therapists. The issue of supervision seems sorely neglected in the cognitive psychotherapy literature, however. The aim of this article is to contribute to filling the gap that apparently exists. Aspects discussed include a conceptualization of the supervisory process from the point of view of the supervisee and the supervisor, and issues related to the interpersonal context of supervision with special regard to possible sources of conflict between supervisor and supervisee. Finally, issues relating to the formal training of supervisors will be treated and the approach of the Swedish Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy will be highlighted.

In most schools of psychotherapy, appropriate supervision is regarded as one of the most essential components of the training of therapists. This opinion stems directly from Freud's original disbelief in the possibility to learn psychoanalysis from the written descriptions of its technique, and from his emphasis on the indispensability of direct individual teaching through the experience of training analysis (Blanton, 1971). However, although there are a large amount of contributions in the psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy literature dealing with the experience of supervision, from the point of view of supervisors and supervisees, the issue of supervision seems to have been sorely neglected in the context of cognitive psychotherapy, despite the great number of training programs currently offered in many quarters. A notable exception is a thorough discussion of issues relating to the training of therapists for therapy outcome studies made available by Shaw and his co-workers (Shaw, 1984; Shaw & Wilson-Smith, 1988).

The aim of this article, the first of a planned series dealing with this topic, is to contribute to filling the current prevailing lacuna. It will focus on some general aspects of the process of the supervision of cognitive psychotherapy, as well as on some aspects of the supervision of therapists working with severely disturbed patients. However, in view of the more or less complete lack of previous writings on the subject of the supervision of cognitive psychotherapy, what follows will be based mainly on the personal experience of the author, accumulated during several years of work as a supervisor and teacher, and on information shared with other colleagues who supervise cognitive psychotherapy. Furthermore, there will also be an attempt to integrate concepts and opinions expressed by authors belonging to other theoretical orientations, because some of the issues and concepts dealt with in this article are probably shared by all supervision categories independent of theoretical stance.


Supervision occurs in various contexts, at different levels, and for different purposes. In the context of the training of therapists, one definition of "supervision," on which it should not be difficult to agree, might be that it refers to planned activities performed by a more qualified professional (the supervisor), the function of whom is to review critically the work done by a less qualified person (the therapist in training) in order to facilitate the professional and personal development of the latter, that is, her/his competence and ability to act successfully in an independent way.

The supervisor has other responsibilities, though, which are important to the type of relationship developing between him/her and the therapist in training, and to the process of supervision itself. One of these responsibilities is to help the novice therapist to become competent enough not to compromise the welfare of the patient treated, and another is to ensure that the level of competence reached by the supervisee corresponds to the professional standard set up by the training institute that will ultimately issue a certificate or diploma of proficiency and by the profession, for example, the National Associations of Psychology and Psychiatry. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.