Welcome to this In Supervision Post.

In this post, I will be discussing one of the parts of my diagram (see image below) – an integrative theoretical model of supervision, in particular, Hawkins and Shohet’s theoretical model.

Hawkins and Shohet (2012) developed the seven-eyed supervisor model, which looks at the interactions between client, therapist, and supervisor in its various – direct or indirect -combinations. This theoretical supervision model will be the focus of this post.

Supervision is a space to discuss, analyse and process the dynamics between

  • client and therapist

  • client and supervisor – through the way the therapist communicates (consciously or unconsciously), and what he/she communicates about the client to the supervisor

  • therapist and supervisor

Supervision is also a space to explore the above relationships in the context of  the client’s life as well as how the therapist’s organisational or practice context influences their relationship with both the client and the supervisor.

These interactions give way to two matrices, as mentioned previously and as presented in the diagram below:


  • the client-therapist/supervisee matrix

  • the therapist/supervisee- supervisor (or supervisory) matrix


What are each of the seven parts of the seven-eyed model of supervision?

  1. Focus on the dynamics of the session in direct relation to the client

The therapist/supervisee will talk about the client’s presentation in this particular session – were they crying as soon as they walked in; did they seem distant or distracted; did they talk a lot or a little; what topics did they want to talk about or not talk about in this particular session; how did this session relate to previous sessions.

When focusing on the dynamics of the session and on what the client did and said, the therapist/supervisee, the therapist is learning to make connections between everything the client has said, and between all the areas of their lives.

  1. Focus on the strategies and interventions used by the supervisee

In this part of supervision, which might happen as part of the general conversation about the client (each of these parts isn’t dealt with in a particular order or individually, supervision is a fluid and dynamic process), the aim is to review the interventions the therapist/supervisee used -what, when, why -, and provide an opportunity to increase the range of interventions in the therapist/supervisee’s arsenal.

  1. Focus on the client-therapist relationship

Here, the therapist/supervisee will relate in words or through parallel process (unconscious body language, attitude or words, that might be similar to what the client did or how they presented during the session) what happened – consciously or unconsciously – between them and the client during the session.

The supervisor will aim to help the therapist/supervisee have “super vision”, vision from above or outside of the relationship with the client, in order to develop greater insight and understanding of what might be happening for the client, as well as what might be happening in the therapeutic relationship.

  1. Focus on the supervisee

An important aspect of supervision is to help the therapist/supervisee process the emotions and thoughts that he/she might be holding for their clients or due to their interaction with their clients.

Therapists/supervisees are human too, and as humans we are affected by the people we encounter and listen to.  The effects of an interaction with a client might be conscious or unconscious, and the goal of the supervisor is to help the therapist/supervisee hone in on these reactions in order to process them and find a way to use them to help their clients, and not get stuck with overwhelming or unprocessed feelings.

  1. Focus on the supervisory relationship

Every relationship has its ups and downs. The supervisory relationship doesn’t escape this.

A review to check that the therapist/supervisee is making the most of the supervisory relationship, without censoring or feeling upset with the supervisor is important. This allows a space to reflect on the relationship and also to repair any lose ends that might be hindering the relationship -which could in turn hinder the relationship with the client to a greater or lesser extent.

Working with clients and bringing them to supervision might bring in parallel processes that we might not be conscious off, but might be playing out in the supervisee-supervisor relationship. The supervisor’s responsibility here is to keep this in check and challenge the supervisee when things come up that clearly relate to a particular client, but might be intruding in the supervisory relationship, and help the supervisee work through them. This in turn will help the development of the supervisee but also help in the therapeutic relationship with the client.

  1. The supervisor focusing on their own process

The supervisor is also human, and will experience the client and the supervisee in different ways, which will help both him/her and the therapist/supervisee in making sense of what is going on in the client’s life and mind, as well as making sense of what might be going on in the therapeutic relationship. It could also shed some light as to what might be happening in the supervisory relationship.

  1. Focus on the wider contexts in which the work happens


The therapy and supervision sessions happen in an office, a room where the space created is safe to discuss difficult topics and emotions. But the client’s life doesn’t happen in this vacuum. They come in for 50-60 minutes per week to talk about what ails them, and each time they leave a little better (sometimes a little worse as happens in many therapeutic processes at different points of the therapy).

The point is, they leave and go back to their life contexts – the reality of life might hit them as they leave the door, or it might be what they have come in to talk about. Economic pressures, work pressures, social rules that they don’t want to adhere to, family responsibilities and stresses. Supervision helps put all of these into context for the therapist, and therefore widens the scope to which they intervene and understand their client.

The therapist also doesn’t work in a vacuum – they follow professional codes of ethics, organisational policies and procedures, and other time and procedural limitations. All of these will impact on the relationships the therapist encounters with their clients and supervisor. All of these need to be worked through in supervision.

The model presented by Hawkins and Shohet provide a glimpse into the emotional, supportive and developmental side of the supervision process. I find this model resonates with me the best out of all of them, it is very caring and pays attention to the most relevant areas of the therapeutic and supervisory relationships, in my opinion.  The other models I will be talking about in the next few weeks focus on other aspects such as more administrative or functional aspects of supervision.

Reference: Hawkins and Shohet. Supervision in the helping professions (2012) McGraw-Hill Education (UK)

I am a qualified Clinical Supervisor, and offer this service for other qualified counsellors. If you are interested in supervising with me either online or in person (if in the Brighton and Hove area), do send me a message to arrange an initial meeting.

In Supervision: The seven-eyed model of supervision