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Supervisors' perspectives on their supervisory relationships: a qualitative analysis

Clohessy, Sue


Sue Clohessy


Helen Beinart


This study aims to explore supervisors' perspectives of their supervisory relationships (SRs) with trainee clinical psychologists, particularly the ways in which they enhance these relationships, and identify and resolve problems.A retrospective qualitative design was used, and clinical psychologists with experience of a range of SRs with trainees participated in the study. Method: Twelve supervisors completed a semi-structured interview about their effective and ineffective SRs with trainees. The data was analysed using Grounded Theory.Three core categories were highlighted regarding the quality of the SR's  contextual influences, the flow of supervision and core relational factors. Contextual influences, which influenced the development of the SR included the team or service context, the training course and individual factors the supervisor and trainee contribute to the relationship. The flow of supervision incorporated the supervisor's investment in the SR and the trainee's openness to learning. The core relational factors of the SR incorporated interpersonal connection, emotional tone and the degree of openness, honesty, safety and trust. The findings suggested a reciprocal relationship between the core relational factors, the supervisor's investment in the SR, and the trainee's openness to learning. Strains in the SR can occur in any of the three categories, and the findings suggest that the supervisor's investment in the SR and the trainee's openness to learning improve the chances of problems being resolved. A resolution cycle was highlighted which incorporated noticing the problem, gathering information, formulating and intervening.The findings are discussed in relation to relevant theory and research. The implications for future research, theory and training are highlighted.


Clohessy, S. (2008). Supervisors' perspectives on their supervisory relationships: a qualitative analysis. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Psychology
Public URL
Additional Information Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
Award Date May 1, 2008


Thesis (919 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2008 Clohessy, Sue. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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