Responsibilities of the psychotherapy supervisor

Am J Psychother. 1998 Spring;52(2):166-75. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1998.52.2.166.


The art and skill of psychotherapy supervision and its teaching have received relatively little attention compared to their importance in psychiatric education. Supervision is a complex task, requiring teaching and clinical skills, as well as an awareness of the numerous responsibilities of the position. We describe the responsibilities of the supervisor and group them to include those to the supervise, to the patient, to the training program and profession, and to the supervisor himself or herself. The core responsibility to supervise is teaching them how to be psychiatrists, which for supervisors requires a balance between a hierarchical and collaborative approach. The primary responsibility to patients is that of assuring satisfactory treatment. Evaluating supervise within an educational framework is the primary responsibility to the training program and profession. Finally, the responsibilities to the supervisors themselves include self-examination during the supervision process and general ongoing education. Several themes are highlighted. One theme, which is a central development in the understanding of supervision, is seeing the supervisor as a participant in the supervisory process, rather than an outside observer of the therapy process. Another theme is that these responsibilities are at times competing, requiring the supervisor to establish priorities. Vignettes are used throughout to illustrate the problems and subtleties of supervision.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Psychiatry / education
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / education
  • Psychotherapy / education*
  • Psychotherapy, Group / education