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Supervisee Self-disclosure: A Clinical Psychology Perspective

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Abstract

Clinical supervision is a multi-functional intervention within numerous psychotherapeutic professions, including clinical psychology. It often relies on supervisees' verbal disclosures of pertinent information. There is limited research on supervisee self-disclosure in the UK, and none using clinical psychology populations. This study aimed to address the limitations in the evidence base. It used a constructivist grounded theory methodology to investigate qualified UK clinical psychologists' use of self-disclosure in supervision in order to develop a theoretical understanding of their self-disclosure processes. Ten clinical psychologists from various time points across the career span were recruited to the study. Four core conceptual categories were identified in the analysis as being integral to participants' decision-making processes: ‘Setting the Scene’, ‘Supervisory Relationship’, ‘Using Self-disclosure’ and ‘Reviewing Outcome of Self-disclosure’. These four categories are comprised of a number of subcategories. The study's findings are compared with the current literature base, and it is argued that there are tensions with the scientist–practitioner model as it could be interpreted to encourage an expert stance, which may limit the self-disclosure of qualified supervisees. The implications of this perspective are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message:

  • Supervision is a key process in supporting qualified clinical psychologists and the use of disclosure appears to be important in facilitating useful supervision.
  • It appears that clinical psychologists go through a number of complex processes in deciding whether to self disclose.

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