An empirical definition of clinical supervision

Br J Clin Psychol. 2007 Nov;46(Pt 4):437-47. doi: 10.1348/014466507X197415.


Objectives: The growing recognition of clinical supervision as the basis for high-quality mental health services is apparent in policy, research and clinical practice, but an empirical definition is required to progress research and practice.

Method: A logical analysis was used to draft a working definition, and then a systematic review of 24 empirical studies of clinical supervision produced a best evidence synthesis, which was used to test and improve this definition.

Results: The logical analysis indicated that the most popular definition (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992) failed all four necessary tests of a good definition: precision, specification, operationalization and corroboration. The systematic review synthesis was then used to test the working definition, which passed these tests (with two amendments).

Conclusion: These two complementary review approaches created a firmer basis for advancing research and practice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Mentors
  • Personnel Management*
  • Psychology, Clinical / education
  • Social Work / education
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • United Kingdom