Psychology graduates

DOP Response on Domain Specific Supervision Requirements in Occupational Psychology

Post-qualification domain-specific supervision requirements

1. Qualified Practitioners in Occupational Psychology (OP) use psychological theory, evidence, and professional skills as scientist-practitioners to improve the effective operation of organisations and workers. They work in a range of settings across public, private and third sectors, including government departments, emergency services, industry, consultancies, and independent practice.

2. Occupational psychology is a diverse field, and when it comes to post-qualification supervision, practitioners enjoy the flexibility to adopt approaches and frequency to match their needs as autonomous professionals and the type of work they are doing. This approach differs from other modalities of applied psychological practice (e.g., clinical, counselling, forensic), where a prescriptive approach to supervision exists. However, regardless of the domain of psychology in which the practitioner works, supervision supports and benefits practice in many important ways.

3. Benefits of supervision

For OPs, supervision can

  • benefit ongoing learning and development, as well as personal wellbeing.
  • help improve the quality of their practice and skills.
  • identify and help in the management of risk.
  • enable practitioners to maintain reflective practice. 
  • support CPD and self-efficacy. 
  • help ensure ethical practice.
  • help practitioners to meet (and demonstrate they are meeting) professional standards for practice and conduct as autonomous professionals.

4. Importance of supervision

OPs carry personal and professional risks that need to be recognised, reflected upon, discussed, reported, and recorded (documented). Whilst professional supervision is not mandatory for OPs, it is recommended. It can promote safe working and help ensure their work is ethical and safe for the organisations and the workers they support.

5. Frequency of supervision

There is no recommendation on the frequency of supervision for OPs, and qualified practitioners are responsible for assessing their needs, considering the setting and population with which they work. For example, the need is expected to be greater when the OP's role significantly engages with highly distressed or vulnerable employees or works in a challenging organisational setting. 

6. Supervision and supervisors

Choices about the type of supervision used will depend on personal preferences and needs. For example,

  • it may be appropriate to seek a supervisor experienced in dealing with stress and burnout if the nature of an OP's work exposes them to factors which could adversely affect their wellbeing.
  • some areas of OP practice may require specialist supervision where the supervisor is a subject area expert acting as a consultant supervisor for a specific piece of work or project.

For a qualified practitioner, using a range of supervisory approaches and relationships may be appropriate, including individual, group, peer, and joint-supervision. This could include supervision with practitioners from other disciplines. It is essential within supervision to have a safe space in which to examine critically, reflect on and evaluate practice from an evidence-based psychological perspective.

7. Contracting and documenting sessions

OP practitioners may have several supervisory relationships. It is essential that there is a transparent contracting process to define the type of supervision, nature of the relationship, and expectations. It is the supervisee's responsibility to make records of the supervision session. If the OP is concerned about an issue, such as whether to report a safeguarding concern, it is essential to maintain a clear record of the supervisory reflection, the decisions made, and the actions agreed.

8. Advice on supervision

If, after reading the BPS guidance and these notes, an OP has a question or concern about supervision, please contact the BPS Practice Team.