CURRICULUM CONTENT FOR – THIRD PHASE SUPERVISED PRACTICE / SUPERVISORS

This page aims to guide psychologists wishing to apply for a EuroPsy certificate and universities wishing to become familiar with EuroPsy standards in the requirements of the European awarding committee (EAC) to preparation of candidates for certification regarding the required one-year supervised practice after their graduation from the higher education institution.

The third phase in the professional education of psychologists consists of one year supervised practice within a particular area of professional psychology. It can be considered as professional field training in order to:

  • prepare for independent practice as a licensed (or equivalent) psychologist,
  • develop working roles as a professional psychologist based on one’s unique training and personality,
  • consolidate the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge.

This training often occurs completely or partially after completion of the second phase, and often occurs after leaving university. However, it may also be part of the university training, for example integrated courses of six years where the supervised practice is arranged by the university as part of the course and occurs within the total six year education period. Its duration is 12 months or the equivalent (60 ECTS).

The type of practice consists of semi-independent work as a psychologist under supervision in a professional collegial setting. This form of training is considered to be essential for obtaining the professional qualification of psychologist, since the application of the knowledge and skills acquired during the first and second phases in a professional setting is a pre-requisite for the development of the psychologists’ competences. Graduates who have completed the first and second phases without a period of supervised practice cannot be considered qualified for independent work as a psychologist.

Supervised practice will normally take place in institutions or ‘certified’ private firms which:

  • provide services that are congruent with the trainee’s educational background,
  • are able to guarantee that the major part of the supervision will be provided by a professional psychologist,
  • are normally accredited or recognised by the national body regulating entry into the profession.

Examples of institutions include hospital or clinic settings, private practice, schools and educational institutions, community services.

One year of full-time supervised practice or its equivalent in part-time is required for the EuroPsy Certificate. The one year (or its equivalent) of supervised practice provides the opportunity for the psychologist practitioner-in-training to put into practice the knowledge, skills and understanding gained from the university education and other professional experiences. It also enables the newly qualified psychologist to develop attributes of self-awareness, reflectivity, personal integrity, ethical competence and robustness which are required to practise competently and responsibly as a psychologist. During this year the newly qualified psychologist will encounter ethical issue and dilemmas and will be supported in developing ethical practice through discussion and supervision. Finally, supervised practice enables the profession to assure the quality and competence of qualified psychologists, since the psychologist practitioner-in-training is required to provide evidence of the range of competences required for independent practice as a psychologist, and the supervisor is required to confirm this evidence. One year of supervised practice is considered to be about 1500 hours.

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Psychologist Practitioners-in-Training

Psychologist Practitioners-in-Training are those who are in the process of completing the supervised practice part of the EuroPsy. They will be working in direct face to face interaction with real clients in real settings but under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Practitioners-in-Training may either be completing their professional training within an integrated programme managed by a university department or be working under the supervision of licensed or registered psychologists in a work context. In either case, it is necessary for a suitably qualified person to act as the Supervisor of the Practitioner-in-Training.

Supervised practice is usually undertaken towards the end of the six year period of education and training as a psychologist. This may be 1) a year of full-time supervised practice following the five year university education; 2) it may consist of a period, for example six months, of full-time supervised practice organised by the university at the end of the university education, followed by a further six month full-time period after the university education; 3) it may consist of periods of full-time supervised practice which normally occur during the second phase of the university education and which total one year within the total six years of education and training.
The internship is not considered part of the supervised practice.

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The Supervisor

A Supervisor is a psychologist who, within the past three years, has had at least two years of full-time work or equivalent experience as an independent practitioner in the role as a psychologist within a field of practice, and who is responsible for the acquisition and assessment of professional competence by a Practitioner-in-Training in that field of practice. The Supervisor will be responsible for supporting the learning and assessing the competence of the Practitioner-in-Training on a day-to-day basis and encouraging her/him to act as independently as possible, given the situation and her/his competences. The Supervisor needs to be recognised by the National Awarding Committee or by the national association either through the mechanism of course accreditation in the case of university-based training, or on an individual basis in the case of post-university work-place supervision; in countries where professional licensing/registration exists, the Supervisor needs to be a licensed/registered psychologist. The supervisor should have received some training in supervision.

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The supervisor must have received some supervision training.

Categories of supervised practice

The Supervisor’s competence is a core indicator of the quality of the supervised practice. The development of supervised practice in Europe will be monitored and supported by EFPA over the forthcoming period. Different quality levels of supervised practice may be identified according to the Supervisor’s practice and training:

  • Level 1. The supervisor satisfies the EuroPsy criteria. In addition the Supervisor has had at least 5 years of full-time independent practice (or its equivalent). The 5 years has been achieved as part of an authorised specialist training programme. The training programme is recognised by a relevant governmental body or a national association. Four of the 5 years have been obtained within one specific field (e.g. health & clinical, education, work & organization). At least two of the four years have been supervised by a level 1 supervisor within the same field. The Supervisor has received at least two years (part time) of formal training in supervision (may be obtained along with the 5 years). The supervision training includes supervised practise of supervision (e.g. video/audiotape presentations), supervisee case conferences, and reading of theory and research on supervision.
  • Level 2. As level 1, but with no formal training in supervision.
  • Level 3. The supervisor satisfies the EuroPsy criteria. After having fulfilled the EuroPsy criteria, the Supervisor has at least 2 years of full-time independent practice (or its equivalent). The 2 years have been achieved within one specific field (e.g. health & clinical, education, work & organization) as part of an authorised specialist training programme. The training programme is recognised by a relevant governmental body or a national association. The 2 years have been supervised by a level 1 or level 2 supervisor. In addition, the Supervisor has received at least 1 year (part time) of formal training in supervision. The supervision training includes supervised practise of supervision (e.g. video/audiotape presentations), supervisee case conferences, and reading of theory and research on supervision.
  • Level 4. As level 3, but with no formal training in supervision.
  • Level 5. The supervisor satisfies the EuroPsy criteria. After having fulfilled the EuroPsy criteria, the Supervisor has at least 2 years of full-time independent practice (or its equivalent). The 2 years have been achieved within one specific field (e.g. health & clinical, education, work & organization).
  • Level GP. The supervisor holds a EuroPsy Certificate through grand-parenting. Category GP may be applied in countries where no tradition of supervised practice exists, and in countries where a tradition of supervised practice exists, but the supervisor does not satisfy the EuroPsy standard of supervision.
  • Level D. The supervisor does not satisfy the EuroPsy criteria. The supervisor does not qualify for receiving the EuroPsy Certificate through grand- parenting. The Supervisor is a psychologist who has at least 2 years of full-time work experience (or its equivalent) as an independent practitioner in the role as psychologist within the type of field of practice where the supervision will take place. Currently, at least a Category D Supervisor is required for the supervised practice to be recognised.

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For developmental, comparative and statistical reasons the Register will contain information about the supervisor category of the supervised practice. In cases where the supervisee has more than one supervisor (e. g. problem based learning), the category of the supervisor who supervised most of the supervised practice will be listed.

EFPA will establish a working group (EuroPsy Working Group on Supervised Practice [ESP]). The ESP will produce a plan for the development of supervised practice in Europe (with specific targets for different countries with different levels of practice in supervision), and will help to facilitate workshops and exchange of expertise, resources and good practice. A long–term goal is that all countries in Europe will advance to level 1.

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Selection and training of supervisors

Supervisors will be experienced psychologists who have the time, commitment and competence to carry out this task and serve as a supervisor. In countries where the practice of supervision is well-developed, supervisors will be selected and accredited for their competence, and they will be supported by training. Any psychologist who undertakes to function as a supervisor should normally undertake training in supervision. There is a range of education and training activities and programmes for psychologist supervisors in order to enable them to develop the competences and the sensitivity required to support Practitioners-in-Training.

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Training activities will be offered by universities, by national psychologist associations and, in the future, through workshops co-ordinated by EFPA which enable the sharing of good practice. There are different models of supervision which reflect different paradigms and philosophical backgrounds to psychological practice. Supervisors will need to develop skills which include the following:

  • positive and active listening,
  • openness and positive regard
  • reflective practice,
  • giving feedback,
  • dealing with difficult issues and feelings,
  • boundary issues and issues of power relations,
  • sharing ethical dilemmas,
  • mentoring,
  • evaluation of competence,
  • assessment of performance.

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It is recognised that at the current time there is a wide range of practice among different European countries reflecting different stages of the evolution of the profession in relation to the accreditation of Supervisors; this ranges from those countries where there is an extensive system for the training and recognition of Supervisors and workplace settings as appropriate for professional training and supervised practice to those countries where these practices are not yet developed. The interests of both the public and the profession are served best by developing high quality supervision by appropriately trained and supported Supervisors, and by setting appropriate requirements for this area of professional formation.

It is good practice that all supervisors undergo training in supervision, and that they are supported in this task. The national psychology associations in some countries now provide an extensive programme of training in supervision, and the goal is for this practice to be made more widely across Europe and for there to be high expectations in this area.

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Context for supervised practice

The context for supervised practice is a real-life professional setting in one of the following fields of practice: a) clinical/health b) educational c) work & organisational or d) other recognised field. This may be arranged by the university or outside the university. The professional setting should provide the opportunity for the psychologist Practitioner-in-Training to develop competences and to be evaluated on their acquisition.

There are different contexts in which psychologists may gain supervised practice. These include:

  • psychologist as student at university and supervised practice is part of the university education and training
  • psychologist works as employee and supervised practice is part of the ‘probationary’ training period (and supervision is formally arranged within the work setting)
  • psychologist works as employee and supervised practice is informally arranged (and maybe provided by a psychologist outside the work setting)
  • psychologist is self-employed and arranges own supervision

Supervision implies a regular meeting between practitioner-in-training and the supervisor; this should occur at least every two weeks and on average two hour protected time for meeting.

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Ongoing practice and formative assessment

For each main activity of supervised practice, the Practitioner-in-Training and Supervisor should agree on which:

  1. Field of practice and client group(s) is covered by the practical work
  2. Roles(s) (from those listed in the profile options) most closely match the work
  3. Competences the activity will provide evidence on.

When the work has been completed, the Supervisor should complete an assessment of the Practitioner-in-Training on each of the 20 competences that are relevant for that piece of work. This assessment should be discussed with the Practitioner-in-Training and areas for further development identified.

Clearly, such assessments are formative, as the Practitioner-in-Training will be developing her/his skills in the course of the minimum required period of one year. Good practice such as the use of portfolios where the Practitioner-in-Training records their work and the development of competences and identifies professional development needs and review their own learning are recommended. These may form the basis for sound professional practice and may contribute to Continuing Professional Development where portfolios are also relevant.

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The practice of supervision

Supervision may be used to socialise the new psychologist into the profession, to replicate institutional canons and to propagate the norms of the profession. The supervisor supports the development of reflective practice, professional awareness and sensitivity, and understanding of ethical issues and dilemmas in practice. The supervisor will provide a central contribution to the learning process thorough modelling, feedback, observation and discussion. The supervisor also performs a kind of gate-keeping function, which means that he/she approves competent practice and contributes to the exclusion of those who are considered not being competent to practice as a psychologist.

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There are many approaches to supervision. All require that the supervisor has the time, the commitment and the competence to be a supervisor. The time will typically involve between one and two hours each week of ‘protected’ and uninterrupted time where the supervisor and the practitioner-in-training work together, discussing the work of the practitioner-in-training, helping to process that work at a cognitive and emotional level, and supporting the practitioner-in-training in the development of competence and professional confidence. This process may also involve tasks carried out by the practitioner-in-training under observation by the supervisor which then form the basis for subsequent detailed discussion and critical reflection as part of the learning process. This might also involve the practitioner-in-training observing the supervisor carrying out tasks, and then using reflection on these as part of the learning and development process. Audio and video tapes may perform a useful function in the process of supervision enabling open discussion and feedback on aspects of the performance of the practitioner-in-training. There is a considerable literature on the process of supervision, both within clinical psychology and more widely.

It is likely that Guidelines on Supervision will be developed at a future date. These have already been developed in a number of countries within Europe, and the EuroPsy should promote the sharing of good practice.

Assessment of competences

It is proposed that Supervisors assess the competences of a Practitioner-in-Training during and at the end of the period of supervised practice, using standard rating categories. Guidance and guidelines for assessment of performance and competences shall be made available. For comparison purposes, it is suggested that universities or countries which use more advanced methods develop systems for transferring results from such advanced assessment into the scale below:

1 2 3 4
Basic knowledge and skill present, but competence insufficiently developed Competence for performing tasks but requiring guidance and supervision Competence for performing basic tasks without guidance or supervision Competence for performing complex tasks without guidance or supervision

Outcomes of supervision

The psychologist practitioner-in-training will be required to provide evidence of the acquisition of the functions and competences as specified in submenu “Competences and competence profiling”. He/she should complete a systematic self-evaluation of level of skill in relation to the range of competences as specified in submenu “Competences and competence profiling”, and should use this format to plan for future professional development.