Table 1

Research aims, intended methods of addressing these, and potential benefits from this line of enquiry
Research Aim Methods Significance
1. To examine expert clinical supervisors’ theories, practices and experiences of supervision, and better understand the processes that build supervisee competence. In-depth interviews with 16 highly experienced clinical supervisors who were nominated by peers as expert supervisors. Topics are shown in Table  2. Most research has examined supervision of trainees rather than experienced therapists, and the supervisors of trainees rather than exploring the clinical wisdom of highly experienced or expert supervisors. This research fills these gaps in literature.
2. To examine actual sessions of expert supervisor and experienced supervisee dyads to increase understanding of the supervision processes underpinning the development of competence in supervisees. Separate in-depth (interpersonal process recall) interviews with supervisor-supervisee dyads while watching DVD recorded supervision session to better understand how supervisors go about the task of building competence in supervisees and supervisee experiences of this process (see Table  3 for sample questions). To contribute to the literature by examining the actual practice of supervision through DVD recordings; by analyzing both supervisor and supervisee views and experiences of joint interactions; and undertaking dyadic analysis. The results will inform supervisor training and professional development programs, and yield a richer picture of supervisory processes.
3. To examine expert supervisor and supervisee dyads’ views on the ways that supervision can improve client outcomes. Separate in-depth (interpersonal process recall) interviews with supervisor-supervisee dyads while watching DVD recorded supervision session to better understand how supervision may impact on client outcomes (see Table  3 for sample questions). Very little research evidence exists on whether supervision improves client outcomes and the processes by which this happens. This study will increase the evidence base about how supervision influences actual client outcomes, with implications for the funding and mandating of supervision.
4. To synthesize findings into a model of optimal supervisory practice that links supervision practices with supervisee performance and impact on client outcomes. Following full analysis of the qualitative data from both supervisors and supervisees, and their dyadic analyses, a model will be constructed and tested from the data. The rich body of data will provide a deeper understanding, not only about the key components of supervision, but also about the process of implementing different supervisory practices and techniques, and how supervisors move from one to the next. A fuller picture will be presented of the complexity of clinical supervision and how expert supervisors integrate the theory, context, supervisee and client characteristics into effective supervisory practice.

Schofield and Grant

Schofield and Grant BMC Psychiatry 2013 13:12   doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-12

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