Covid-19 poses particular challenges for psychotherapists & supervisors ....

In these extraordinary COVID-19 times, psychotherapists & supervisors are faced with the challenge of navigating multiple aspects of their practice. At the same time, they are also vulnerable members of the community, with worries about parents, siblings, partners, children, friends, neighbours, and indeed about the impact of COVID-19 on their psychotherapy and supervision practice. Some psychotherapists and supervisors may need to sign-up to the Department of Social Protection's COVID-19 special payment scheme if they have had to stop working. Therapists are constantly exposed to the "underbelly" of human existence and are, as a consequence, prone to compassion fatigue at the best of time. This current global crisis adds a new layer to the challenges to a therapist's spirit. Hopefully our training has equipped us with grounded resources that stand us in good stead.  Many therapists and supervisors also find themselves in HSE vulnerable-persons categories by virtue of age or health issues, or because they are carers for vulnerable people. Supervisors, who may themselves be somewhat uncertain about online or phone therapy, may find themselves supporting therapists to make best-practice and ethical decisions about the complex intersection of "case" material and unfamiliar modes of delivery of therapy.

In respect of supervision, Annie Sampson (2006), citing Inskipp and Proctor (2001), tells us that supervisors are engaged in collaborative and supportive relationships with therapists that enhance the therapist's learning. She suggests that three key types of learning are involved in this: formative learning, normative learning and restorative/supportive learning. But the question arises: what does supportive, formative and normative interaction between therapists and their supervisors look like in this extraordinary COVID-19 situation.

We are not trained for this situation. Only those aged over 100yrs have experience of a truly equivalent pandemic (the "Spanish Flu" of 1918), and ever there the public health authorities did not create the social-distancing that applies to us all now. Whilst supervisors and psychotherapists are required by our codes of ethics to work within our competence, our initial and CPD education which is the bedrock of our competence, never had this current situation in mind. And so as psychotherapists and supervisors we must adapt and yet stay on ethically sound ground as we try to identify best practice in extraordinary times.


The other pages in this "COVID-19: Supervisors & Therapists" section of the website are my attempt to share some thoughts with fellow psychotherapists and supervisors about things we might need to think about. [If any psychotherapists or supervisors want to contribute some additional thoughts on best practice in this situation, I will see if I can add them to this site (and acknowledge where they came from). Please feel free to contact me through the contact page] These additional pages are in a drop-down menu under the COVID-1919: Supervisors & Therapists tab at the top of this page (just click on the tab or the drop down menu item)


Inskipp, F. and Proctor, B. (2001). Making the Most of Supervision. Part 1. Twickenham: Cascade

Sampson, A (2006) A supervision Guide, in Inside Out, Issue 50, Autumn 2006.