Clinical supervision: A review of underlying concepts and developments

  • MacDonald J
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OBJECTIVE: This review examines how psychiatric clinical supervision is represented in the psychiatric literature and its relevance for Australasian psychiatry. METHOD: The literature was first identified then reviewed using Medline and Psychlit, manual searches of relevant journals and personal contact with some key workers in Australia and New Zealand. RESULTS: The predominantly American literature written two to three decades ago reflected the conditions in which psychiatry was practised at that time, largely based in asylums or private offices and informed by the dominant psychoanalytic discourse of that era. These articles, frequently anecdotal and with little empirical support, conceptualized supervision as a developmental process, a syndrome, or a process of identification. They focused substantially on the nature of the relationship between the trainee and supervisor. More recent writers have included trainees' perspectives. They have identified a number of problems with supervision, including role conflicts, uncertainty about boundaries, lack of supervisory training and lack of effective feedback, and have introduced the concepts of adult learning as highly relevant. These concerns, however, have led to little change to date. CONCLUSION: The implementation by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) of new training by-laws provides an opportunity to define the meaning of supervision in the current clinical context, to undertake research to clarify the key elements in the process, and to evaluate different techniques of supervision.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Psychiatric residency
  • Psychiatric supervision
  • Psychiatric training

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  • Joanna MacDonald

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