Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development

At the Bleeding Edge of Development, Reaping Benefit for Our Clients.

Do Not Seek Out A Supervisor

Do Not Seek Out A Supervisor


Seek out a portfolio of supervisors, mentors and coaches.

The apprenticeship model of clinical supervision certainly has its merits. It takes us beyond what we read and what we derive from experience in clinical practice. After all, clincial supervision has been defined as the “signature pedagogy” of our field.[1]

However, clinical supervision as we know it, has little to no impact on our actual improvement. If we are to truly develop, and have a deep impact on our clients’ lives, we need to take a more expansive view about this master-apprentice model of professional development.

Instead of enlisting a supervisor for guidance,

we should instead build a portfolio of supervisors, mentors, and coaches.


No one person has all the keys to guide you. It would be unwise to expect to learn everything from one teacher. Instead, we need to first identify areas that we have gaps in our knowledge, and then seek out coaches in that particular domain of expertise.[2]

Do your prep before you approach your guides. Figure out what you need to be working on. Make it concrete and write them down. (It’s not enough to just think about them in your head). Date it. When you look back, you get a sense of your evolution.

Remember: Keep one eye on your performance (i.e., client outcomes), and the other on your development (i.e., how you are learning).[3] Enlist the community of guides to make sure you have both eyes focused on where it should be.


Surround yourself with people that can help you become a better version of yourself, not become a mimicry of them.


Your Partner in Crime, 



[1] Watkins, C. E. (2010). Psychotherapy supervision since 1909: Some friendly observations about its first century. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 1-11.doi:10.1007/s10879-010-9152-2

[2] Some of these terminologies were borrowed from Dorie Clark’s book, Reinventing You.

[3] Chow, D. (2017). The practice and the practical: Pushing your clinical effectiveness to the next level. In D. Prescott, C. Maeschalck, & S. D. Miller (Eds.), Reaching for Excellence: Feedback-Informed Treatment in Practice: APA.


  1. Jay Haley spoke eloquently saying that supervision IS therapy and so all that we know about effective therapy can translate seamlessly and simply into effective supervision.

    • hey Rob, can you point to Jay Haley’s writings on this please? Anything from his strategic therapy books or articles?
      At this point of my thinking, I don’t fully agree. I’m prepared to be entirely wrong on this.
      Perhaps iff we get to the underpinning principles of learning, perhaps that’s possible.
      Love to hear your views about this Rob. I greatly respect the work that you do.


      • It was an invited address at the 2000 Ericksonian conference in Phoenix. There’s a transcript in one of his books – not sure which one. If you give me your email I can send you a link to the audio. It’s a gem. I like it and find myself agreeing with him.
        A client has a problem with a partner, their life … and the therapy begins. A supervisee has a problem with a client … and the supervision begins. I might be overlooking something but I’ve applied this principle in supervising and it seems to be useful

        • Thanks so much Rob!
          Jay Hayley is one of my heroes (his book on Erickson, Uncommon Therapy is excellent), so would love to hear more from his later talks…

          • Just sent a dropbox link, Daryl. Let’s know what you think. I found it clear and to the point.

          • Hi Rob! I’ve finished listening to it. Brilliant. A true homage to Erickson.

            I love the part when he said that most of us assume responsibility for taking patients’ money but we do not assume responsibility for their change.

  2. I’m a simple person and like what Haley proposes.

    A person comes to us because of a problem they have with another person or their life or responses, and the therapy begins.

    A therapist come for supervision because of a problem they have with a client, and the supervision can begin.

    We can help an athlete without needing to be athletic ourselves. We don’t need to be an expert in the field of the client or therapist’s dilemma. We can attend to their suffering, form a trusting relationship, emirate expectancy … and the magick begins … in therapy and in supervision .

    It fits for me …

  3. Hi Daryl & Rob,

    Would it be possible to get this link of Jay Haley addressing the 2000 Erickson Conference you speak of? Would love to hear it.

    Thank you,

    Elena Parsons, LMHC, LPC

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