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  • Writer's pictureHeather Bense

Helpful v. Harmful Clinical Supervision

Supervision is a signature pedagogy for many of the helping professions. For social workers, professional counselors, nurses, and drug and alcohol counselors alike, there is an expectation that we practice our skills in the field, then process and grow from a trusted supervisor.

Supervision matters more than you might think. According to a meta-analysis conducted by Mor Barack et al. in 2009 found that helpful supervision can reduce:

• Stress

• Burnout

• Likelihood to leave the profession

• Supervisee symptoms of anxiety, depression and somatic complaints

Most importantly, however, helpful supervision increases the likelihood that clients will benefit from their work in therapy, as well as achieve satisfactory goal completion (2009). It is clear what harmful supervision can do based on this information: supervisees can experience increased stress, anxiety, depression, and an increased sense of being scrutinized by their supervisor.

It is in the service to ourselves and our clients, therefore, to show up for the hard work of growth through supervision, and advocate for the types of supervision we collectively need. Take supervision seriously, and take the time to communicate what you need and what you struggle with including, any feelings of stress you might be feeling. Helpful supervision will make all the difference!

MorBarak, M. E. M., Travis, D. J., Pyun, H., & Xie, B. (2009). The impact of supervision on worker outcomes: A meta-analysis. Social Service Review, 83(1), 3-32. doi:


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