Clinical psychologists on clinical supervision: a Delphi survey

Roberts, Brenda (2000). Clinical psychologists on clinical supervision: a Delphi survey. PhD thesis The Open University.



Background and aims

In the context of historical tensions from different epistemologies and traditions, and contemporary needs for guidance and clarity, the DCP has noted `an emerging consensus' on the desirability for career long engagement in clinical supervision for clinical psychologists. The study attempts to measure this consensus and investigate current practices and beliefs.

Design and participants

A three-round Delphi survey was used, initially gathering semi-structured accounts of panelists' views and subsequently inviting more precise responses to a questionnaire derived from those accounts. The participants were 53 clinical psychologists, selected on the basis of their presumed interest or expertise in supervision.


Materials were developed for the study: - PPI collected personal and professional information, - DQI collected semi-structured accounts of opinions concerning various aspects of supervision, - DQ2 was a 62-item questionnaire derived from DQI material.


Most panelists were both giving and receiving supervision. There was broad agreement on most issues, including the desirability of universal engagement in supervision for clinicians, the primacy of the supervisory relationship, the need for preparation for the roles of both supervisor and supervisee, and the necessity to identify supervision as an activity distinct from both management and therapy. In contrast there was little agreement on how supervision is most appropriately related to either management or therapy, nor on the relative importance of personal therapy and supervision in the training of competent therapists.


Most panelists were deeply engaged in both the provision and the receipt of supervision, which supports current DCP policies, but the culture is not yet strong enough to guarantee that all clinicians will he offered it routinely. More theoretical research is needed to develop models of supervision which will not assume that psychotherapy is its only legitimate focus, but will pay due heed to the wide range of tasks undertaken by both clinical psychologists and their supervisees.

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