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Dandelion Parachute Seed

Clinical Supervision in Higher Education

Counsellors working in higher education have to work in a way that is very specific to the university setting with a special set of circumstances that determine the nature of the work.  For this reason, I think that it’s important they are supported in clinical supervision by someone who is familiar with this setting and understands the particular demands of working in a university counselling service.

HE counselling services are under increasing pressure to carry out often complex work with young adults at a developmentally vulnerable stage of life.  Early adulthood can be a risky time and HE counsellors often hold large caseloads with pressure to meet high demand.  There is the additional complexity of working within a large organisation where boundaries/dual relationships, multi-disciplinary working, differences in approaches to confidentiality, university politics & team dynamics are often part and parcel of the job.

I am a qualified clinical supervisor (PG diploma since 2013) and have worked in university counselling services for 20 years (Universities of Nottingham and Leicester).  I have enjoyed the energy and vibrancy that working with young adults brings.  I have years of experience running counselling groups for students, including co-ordinating the group counselling program for the University of Nottingham for 6 years.  I have experience of supporting and supervising counsellors in this setting (for individual and group work), both as a senior counsellor mentoring new members of the team, a clinical supervisor to trainees on placement and a private practice supervisor working with HE counsellors externally to their service.

I have seen the changes to services over the years with increasing demand, complex client presentations, increased student expectations because of university fees, dwindling resources and service re-structures.  All of this can lead to work that is intense, often short term/episodic in nature and difficult to assess for clinical outcome.  I believe the effective supervision supports the counsellor to do safe, effective, professional and satisfying work within this context.  Supervision that does not understand the HE environment can leave practitioners feeling undermined.

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