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What is group supervision?

Group supervision is an approach I have used with groups of about 6-10 professionals to create a community of learners and to support their emotional well-being. It is intended to complement individual supervision approaches.

Who is it for?

Group supervision is a method that can be used to support those who work in the helping professions such as Portage workers, family Support Workers, teachers, teaching assistants and many others. This is intended to support the professionals who attend to develop their skills and understanding, to manage the emotions and stress raised by their work and to ensure work is ethical and appropriate.

How does it work?

The sessions last 1 1/2 to 2 hours and are run approximately once every 6 to 8 weeks at a location convenient for the group of professionals. A professional contract is drawn up with managers of the professional in the group (if appropriate) to discuss possible content of the group, reporting back formats, frequency and other issues. Ground rules are drawn up with the group to agree what can be discussed, apporaches used, venue and other aspects of the group.

Who have you used group supervision with?

I have used group supervision approaches with Family Support Workers in Children’s Centres, Family Support Workers for schools, Children’s Centre teachers, Children’s Centre managers, Portage workers and Area SENCos.

Resources used to support group supervision
  • Hawkins, P & Shohet, R (2006) Supervision in the helping professions (3rd ed) Maidenhead: Open University Press/McGraw Hill Publications
  • Newton, C (1995) 'Circles of adults', Educational Psychology in Practice, 11 (2), pp 8-14
  • Pearpoint, J & Forrest, M (2002) Solution Circles, Toronto:Inclusion Press
  • Proctor, B (2000) Group supervision London: Sage Publications
  • Scaife, J (2001) Supervision in the Mental Health Professions: A Practitioner's Guide, Hove: Routledge
Group supervision with Family Support Workers was the subject of my doctoral thesis in 2010, please click here to read the abstract.

If this is an aspect of this work you feel would benefit your organisation, please contact me


The group supervision that Anita runs has benefitted me in many ways. I have been able to learn from colleagues who have different experiences and backgrounds. I have also been given the opportunity to share my skills and give advice thus developing my confidence. Anita has helped me to see situations from a different perspective and to be more reflective. Her input is always backed by sound theoretical knowledge but she is able to present this in an accessible, meaningful and interesting way.

The situations that we bring to the meetings are frequently sensitive and complex. The types of situations that can keep you awake at night wondering if you have done the right thing or if you have covered every option. Anita is very thorough and supportive in her response. As a result I never feel that I have solely been given a single solution. I come away with a wider perspective and a choice of strategies and solutions to disseminate and also to use for myself. Anita also has this skill of making you feel as if you have been part of generating the solution which is very empowering.

Samantha Belton, Area SENCo, Early Years Childcare Service, Worcestershire

I would like to commend Anita on the way she has facilitated our group supervision sessions. Anita has shown insightful guidance: allowing discussion and encouraging participation but skilfully bringing things back 'on topic' or using reflective questioning to help the group explore issues in more detail. It is a testament to Anita's skill and empathy that she has such a lightness of touch and is so effective in helping everyone to relax and get the most out of the time together – even at the beginning when she didn't know us that well.

I feel that Anita would be a valuable asset to whatever organisation, group or individual she worked with. I certainly feel that she has helped my practice improve and develop through her relaxed, fluent and seemingly effortless skills to facilitate a focussed group discussion – enabling everyone to benefit from the group's collective knowledge and experience. I would welcome the opportunity to work with Anita again in the future.

Andrew Pritchard, Early Intervention Family Support Worker, Bromsgrove
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Family Support Worker based in a Children's Centre

Sharing (my) case study with the group - helped me to realise that I did what I could and that I was not to be blamed for their (the family's) shortcomings.  They were the ones that were failing their children - not me.  I was supporting them with my actions.  After this, I soon let go of those awful feelings of guilt.This helped greatly and I now look at cases from a different perspective now.  The group provides, valuable, emotional support by sharing experiences within a confidential environment.

Diane Buggins, Family Support Worker, Redditch Children's Centre

Comments from Children's Centre teachers in Birmingham in 2010 include

Thank you for providing this service – it has been a lifeline at time when I have needed it. It enabled me to get on with work knowing that there has been somewhere to go to share things. It has helped emotionally and professionally.

I have very much enjoyed the sessions I have attended and found them helpful in many ways. They allow you to look at things in a positive way and most importantly they provide time and space to reflect effectively!

For other comments and the full evaluation of use of group supervision for 2 years with Children Centre teachers in Birmingham, please click here.

For a sample group supervision contract, click here

For the policy on group supervision click here

Training on how to run group supervision sessions

It was very thought provoking and gave me a strategy to work around and some useful skills I can utilise .... I like the

Clare Locker, Cluster manager of Worcester City Children's Centres.

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