What it takes to become a counselling supervisor in 2024

Become a Counselling Supervisor

Becoming a counselling supervisor is one of the most rewarding and highly regarded jobs in the counselling industry.

It requires experience, knowledge, excellent counselling skills and a great deal more responsibility, and is, therefore, the natural progression for those pursuing a career in counselling.

And the fact that you’re here today suggests you might have what it takes to take your next step.

If so, then we’ve created this comprehensive free guide to help you find everything you need to know about becoming a counselling supervisor in the UK, in 2024.

1. What is a counselling supervisor?

2. How does counselling supervision work?

3. Who can become a counselling supervisor?

4. How to become a counselling supervisor

5. Why are counselling supervisors in demand?

6. What are the benefits of becoming a counselling supervisor?

7. Video: How to set up a counselling practice in the UK

1. What is a counselling supervisor?

A counselling supervisor is a professional who provides supervision and guidance to other counsellors, therapists, or mental health practitioners in training. This is an essential role in counselling and psychotherapy, as it helps ensure that therapists provide effective and ethical services to their clients whilst also supporting the professional development of the counsellors themselves.

If you’re already working as a practising counsellor, you may already be familiar with some of the roles of a counselling supervisor from your own supervision.

However, for clarification, here are some key aspects of what a counselling supervisor does:

counselling supervisors

Supervision: The primary role of a counselling supervisor is to offer clinical supervision to counsellors or therapists. This involves regularly reviewing and discussing the cases and work of the supervisee. Supervision can be provided individually or in group settings.

Feedback and Evaluation: The supervisor provides feedback on the counsellor’s clinical skills, therapeutic techniques, and overall performance. They help identify areas of strength and areas that may need improvement.

Ethical Guidance: Supervisors ensure that counsellors adhere to ethical guidelines and professional standards, usually set by counselling bodies such as the BACP. They help supervisees navigate complex ethical dilemmas that may arise in therapy.

Support: Supervisors provide emotional and professional support to their supervisees. They create a safe space for counsellors to discuss their own emotional reactions to clients, as well as any challenges they face in their work.

Education and Skill Development: Supervisors help counsellors enhance their clinical skills, expand their knowledge of therapeutic techniques, and stay up-to-date with current research and best practices.

Monitoring Progress: Supervisors regularly monitor the progress of the supervisee’s clients to ensure that therapy is beneficial and that clients receive appropriate care and attention.

Conflict Resolution: If conflicts arise between a counsellor and their clients or within the counselling team, the supervisor may help mediate and provide guidance on resolution.

Documentation: Supervisors often maintain records of supervision sessions and evaluations as part of the supervisory process. This is often used as evidence for counselling bodies that their members maintain a high standard.

Supervision is crucial for maintaining the quality of mental health services and ensuring clients’ well-being. It offers a structured and supportive environment for counsellors to learn and grow while providing the necessary oversight to ensure ethical and effective practice.

2. How does counselling supervision work?

how to be a counselling supervisor

Counselling supervision in the UK is a structured process that centres on the professional relationship between the counselling supervisor and supervises.

Central to this process is the influence of accrediting bodies like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), whose Ethical Framework often serves as a cornerstone for many supervisors in the UK.

But let’s take a look step-by-step at how the process works:

    Step 1: The supervision process typically begins with a contracting phase, where both parties clarify the terms of supervision, such as the frequency and format of sessions, expectations, and any specific goals. These contracts are essential to establishing a clear framework for supervision.

    Step 2: Regular supervision sessions are then conducted, where the supervisee presents client cases for discussion. These sessions serve as a platform for the supervisee to receive feedback, guidance, and insights from the experienced supervisor.

    Step 3: Within these sessions, ethical considerations and adherence to professional standards are emphasised, with supervisors providing support and guidance on ethical dilemmas and confidentiality concerns. This conversation promotes ethical practice and ensures the quality of client care.

    Step 4: The supervisory relationship is then built upon trust, confidentiality, and respect. It provides a safe space for supervisees to engage in reflective practice, explore their clinical work, and address their professional development needs.

    Supervisors play a crucial role in facilitating self-awareness, enhancing clinical skills, and encouraging ongoing learning and development, ultimately contributing to the growth and excellence of counselling and psychotherapy services in the UK.

    3. Who can become a counselling supervisor?

    In the UK, becoming a counselling supervisor typically requires meeting specific qualifications and professional standards. While the requirements may vary depending on the accrediting body or organisation, you typically need to be an experienced, professionally trained counsellor or psychotherapist and attend an accredited supervision course.

    1. Accreditation and membership

    To train to become a counselling supervisor, you often need to hold accreditation or membership with professional bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (NCPS), the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), or the British Psychological Society (BPS).

    To gain membership to a counselling body in the UK, you must meet specific educational and training requirements, which usually involve completing up to a level 4 counselling qualification or equivalent. If you have not achieved this yet, we’d suggest taking a look at our dedicated Guide to Becoming a Counsellor.

    2. Supervision courses

    Some professional bodies, such as the BACP or UKCP, offer specific accreditation or recognition for supervisors. Meeting their criteria and becoming accredited as a supervisor can enhance one’s credibility in the field. 

    Usually, individuals gain this accreditation by completing specific supervision training courses, or programs offered by accredited training providers like ourselves. These courses are designed to prepare individuals practically and theoretically for the supervisor role, and, of course, lead to gaining a professional qualification in supervision. 

    Let’s dive into counselling supervision courses and qualifications a little more.

    4. How to become a counselling supervisor

    Now that we’ve learnt what a counselling supervisor does and who can become one, let’s look at how you become one. As mentioned above, the main way to become a counselling supervisor in the UK is by attending and completing a counselling supervision course. 

    While there are many out there, it is important to note that each course might have its own criteria and procedures. Therefore, it’s essential that you visit the website of the counselling body or organisation you’re interested in and carefully review their membership or accreditation requirements. 

    However, generally, it is worth noting that most accredited supervision courses will require you to have already qualified as a counsellor and have a good amount of practical experience in a counselling role.

    how to become a counselling supervisor

    To complete your counselling supervision course, you will also need to gain practical supervision experience and undergo supervision during your own counselling practice. Most courses require a minimum amount of hours of your own personal therapy and internal written assessments. 

    Supervision courses are usually 40-100 hours in length and can span over an intensive couple of weeks or even a year-long course. For example, Our CPCAB Level 6 supervision course is 90 hours long and delivered as 1 online evening session per week.

    Once you’ve completed the course and practical hours, you will receive your certification and be able to apply for roles such as an ‘Accredited Supervisor’ or even a ‘Senior Accredited Supervisor’. 

    Looking to become a counselling supervisor?

    At Astranti Connect, our level 6 CPCAB counselling supervision course is perfect for those looking to take on a supervisory role and help others become better, more effective counsellors.

    Learn more here

    5. Why are counselling supervisors in demand?

    The demand for qualified counsellors in the UK has never been greater. On a positive note, awareness of mental health has been growing for a while, meaning more and more people are seeking out counselling and therapy services.

    On the other (and less positive) hand, demand for quality counsellors has also seen an increase due to several social and cultural factors, including the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, to name just a few. 

    As expected, with the increased demand for counsellors comes the increased demand for counselling supervision. 

    Counselling supervisors are needed in the UK (and in counselling and psychotherapy professions globally) for several important reasons. As previously touched upon, some counselling membership bodies, such as the BACP, require supervision for all practising counsellors to ensure they’re continuously developing their skills and working in an ethical environment.  

    demand for counselling supervisors

    But here are just a few more points on why they’re so important to the counselling industry.

      1. Quality assurance

      A counselling supervisor plays a critical role in ensuring the quality of mental health services. They review and oversee the work of counsellors and therapists, helping to maintain high standards of care and ethical practice.

      2. Ethical Oversight

      Supervisors help therapists navigate complex ethical dilemmas that can arise in therapy and ensure counsellors adhere to the ethical guidelines set by counselling bodies.

      3. Support and well-being

      They provide emotional support and help therapists manage the demands of their work. Often supervisors can provide guidance and support to counsellors when they have self-doubt about their ability or a unique case. 

      4. Accountability

      Supervision holds therapists accountable for competent and ethical client care. Supervisors often give counsellors ways they can improve in practice and make sure the quality of their service does not diminish.

      5. Risk Management

      Supervision holds therapists accountable for competent and ethical client care. Without supervision, some counsellors’ quality of care could diminish, and this is extremely important when dealing with clients’ emotions.

      6. Client Safety

      The primary focus is on encouraging client safety and well-being. One of the most important roles of a supervisor is to ensure the client’s safety by overseeing the standard of care and ethical practice.

      6. What are the benefits of becoming a counselling supervisor?

      Becoming a counselling supervisor offers several benefits, both personally and professionally. Here are some of the advantages of taking on the role of a counselling supervisor:

        Professional Growth

        Supervising others deepens your understanding of counselling and psychotherapy. You stay engaged with current therapeutic techniques and theories, fostering your own professional development.

        Leadership and Mentorship

        As a supervisor, you become a leader and mentor. You contribute to the development of emerging therapists, which can be a personally rewarding and professionally fulfilling role.

        Enhanced Skills

        Supervising therapists provide an opportunity to refine your clinical skills, including assessment, case conceptualisation, and intervention strategies. You gain expertise in providing feedback and guiding therapeutic practice.


        Supervision can be conducted in various settings, such as private practice, educational institutions, or healthcare organisations, and you can also do it part-time, as a freelancer or a full-time employee. 

        Professional Recognition

        Becoming a supervisor often brings professional recognition and credibility. Accrediting bodies and organisations may grant you special status or titles, such as “Accredited Supervisor,” which enhances your professional reputation within the industry. 

        Increased Income

        Supervision can be a source of additional income. Most therapists charge for supervision services, making it a financially rewarding aspect of the profession and normally leads to an increase in pay.

        7. Video: How to set up a counselling practice in the uk


        Illustration by Storyset.