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Supervision ( Latin for overview ) is a form of advice for employees that encourages reflection on their own actions and is intended to ensure and improve the quality of professional work. Supervision can contain psychotherapeutic elements and it is difficult to draw the line between psychotherapy.

Supervisions are led by a supervisor who usually has the appropriate qualifications or additional training. Individuals, groups and organizations learn in supervision to examine and improve their professional or voluntary activities. For this purpose, the participants can agree on certain goals with the supervisor. Contents are the practical work, the role and relationship dynamics between employee and client, customer or patient, cooperation in a team or in the organization.

Supervision is mainly used in the medical, psychological, social, educational and therapeutic areas (social workers, social pedagogues, educators, doctors, nursing staff, psychotherapists , teachers, pastors, etc.), and increasingly also in business (supervision for managers, project supervision). Supervision continues to play an increasingly important role in the academic field, where it is regularly applied in the research context.


Similar to coaching, supervision can take place individually or in a group. According to the model of Keel (2003) there is a triangular relationship (triangular contract or triangular contract) between the supervisee, the client and the supervisor:

The supervisor

  • draws up the contract (service contract, agreement or contract) with the client and the supervisee
  • leads the sessions with the aim of supporting the supervisee's learning
  • evaluates together with the supervisee and, if necessary, with the client
  • works authentically and empathically with the supervisee
  • does not act on behalf of the supervisee outside the supervision system
  • ensures data protection

The supervisee

The supervisee (English supervisee)

  • participates in contract, supervision and evaluation meetings
  • uses the competence of the supervisor and, if necessary, co-supervisees
  • reflects his practice in the interaction

with the intention of relieving and / or learning.

The client

  • negotiates or sets conditions on scope, frequency, price and objectives
  • possibly takes part in the contract meeting or in evaluation meetings

Content of the supervision

Depending on the target agreement, the focus is on methodological competence, values ​​and norms, personality traits, feelings, thoughts and behavior, personal development, spirituality, goals and strategies, the relationship between the supervisee and the client, cooperation in the team or in the organization, interfaces and synergies, role expectations and role behavior, diagnosis of clients (case supervision), structural and procedural organization, power and responsibility, decision-making processes, information and documentation, quality management, (social) politics, role of young professionals, introduction and integration of new employees, leadership, neighborly relationships, relationships with Interest groups, cooperation with the carrier. Last but not least, the relationship between supervisor and supervisee (s) is important and often a model topic. Supervision often also includes elements of psychotherapy and organizational development .

Focus and content are closely linked to the setting .


Depending on the historical roots and “school”, the thinking is more depth psychological , group work , client- centered , systemic , constructivist- systemic or integrative . Depending on the “school”, different priorities are set accordingly: analytical reflection, here-and-now, solution orientation, consideration of affects in a systemic context, disrespect for certainties, etc. What they all have in common is the agreement of goals for a certain period of time and regular success monitoring. So it's always about goals, taking stock, reflecting on experiences - and then implementing skills in the direction of the agreed goal.

In practice, a wide inventory of methods is available across all schools and is used in a situation-specific manner: what works is good . These include a. Psychodrama , group dynamics , gestalt therapy , NLP , topic-centered interaction , experiential education , systemic therapy , Grupo Operativo , role play , video analysis , homework and much more.


The setting is chosen depending on the goal and content :

Individual supervision

In one-on-one supervision, a supervisee discusses his professional situation with a supervisor. The content is in particular personal behavior and the underlying values, experiences, thoughts and feelings.

The advantage of individual supervision is that it is sometimes easier to bring up intimate questions.

Case supervision

In case supervision, representatives of various professions or members of a team meet to discuss the specifics of a particular client or patient and to plan and improve how they are dealt with. The goals are to relieve the supervisors and improve care. The group serves as a mirror in which conflicts and resources become clear and solutions can be found. The client is not present here.

In case supervision, in a different composition, is also useful if several institutions are busy with the same client: social welfare office, youth welfare office, psychiatrist, court, partner / family, and of course the person concerned himself.

Group supervision

In the group supervision, supervisees from different institutions and often from different professional fields meet and exchange experiences and problems under the guidance of a supervisor. Each participant takes turns given the opportunity to contribute and learn for himself. Here, too, the group serves as a mirror in which conflicts and resources become clear and solutions can be found.

The advantage of group supervision is that experiences from different organizations and their methods and cultures come together and thus open up the view.

Team supervision

In team supervision, the focus is on how the team members interact with one another. Participants are the employees of a work team or a training team. The aim is mutual learning, synergy and solutions. Contents are cooperation, goals, processes, structures, values ​​and culture. This also includes personal issues, but these are only dealt with insofar as they particularly hinder or promote the joint process. The optimal way of dealing with clients is the overriding goal.

The advantage of team supervision is that what has been learned can then be put into practice together.

Teaching supervision

In the teaching supervision or training supervision, prospective supervisors learn and practice the method of supervision. Contents are the individual practical situations, the relationship to and dealing with their supervisees, their own personality, the role as supervisor and the role of the supervisor in the organization of the supervisee. The content is also the cooperation in your own training group. Teaching supervision can take place as individual supervision or as group supervision.


Intervision or peer supervision is a type of group supervision without a supervisor. Supervisors supervise one another. Intervision is part of the training. Participation in intervision groups is prescribed by many professional supervision associations for their members as a quality assurance measure.

About history

Originally, supervision was understood to be practical advice in social work . In the USA in particular, supervision was the supervision and guidance of a supervisor . Initially, these were volunteer social workers who were supervised by professional social workers . Supervision served the superior to discuss professional action in his own way with the executing employee and to guide them to specific behavior. The supervisor was often the direct superior. Today's mentoring has adopted this approach. Sometimes coaching is also understood and used in this way. Today, supervision is usually carried out by external and independent supervisors, and a number of professional associations rule out hierarchical supervision.

Michael Balint , a Hungarian psychoanalyst, developed a reflection group for doctors in Great Britain in the 1950s , in which the supervisor discussed the relationship between doctors and their patients in groups and addressed reflective phenomena in the group. Balint groups are also used in other professional groups, such as nurses, pastors, teachers and managers. The German Balint Society e. V. limited itself to the supervision of doctors.

In the last decade, supervision has been enriched by the tradition of organizational sociology and psychology : work is not carried out by the individual in a vacuum, but always takes place in a role (the totality of expectations of the status assumed ) that is integrated into an organizational one Context. Both structural hierarchies and individual work processes shape the role behavior and thus also the inner experience of the person concerned. Only when this interface of internal needs and external requirements is mastered by people does this manifest itself e.g. B. in the form of "job satisfaction". Conceptually, the categories of thought: norms, business processes, interaction and emotion must be taken into account, since organization is to be treated as an open system.


Supervision and Balint group

In Balint groups , doctors, nurses, paramedics, therapists (or representatives of other professions with stressful situations) discuss their relationship with patients using their own case histories. An essential content is always one's own personality and the transference and countertransference between therapist and patient. In addition to training analysis , the Balint group also provides training to become a psychoanalyst .

Supervision and coaching

Supervision and coaching are just different names for comparable procedures. Supervision comes from the psychosocial area ("nonprofit" or "socialprofit"). Supervision is also increasingly used in business (“profit”), but there often under the new German term “coaching”. Managers in the psychosocial area tend to call the method “supervision” (especially if they work close to clients or fill a low management position). Executives in higher positions and those in business tend to call it coaching.

Supervision is more aimed at the behavior of professionals towards clients, customers, patients, often with the involvement of the whole team and in relation to the organization. Coaching is more aimed at the behavior of individual managers towards employees.

Supervision and therapy

Personality development is an essential element of supervision, sometimes with therapeutic content, but just one of many. In psychotherapy, on the other hand, the development of personality and the elimination of disorders are the central elements.

State of research

Research into supervision is a young discipline and has not long been anchored in universities and research institutions (e.g. FU Amsterdam, Kassel, Würzburg, Krems, Salzburg, EAG Hückeswagen, zak Basel). Research, but also theory development, is still in its infancy. A well-founded, independent and generally recognized supervision theory is not available. There is no overarching praxeology . According to a documentation of the international research situation, there have so far been only a few controlled studies. A general effectiveness of all supervision procedures cannot be assumed so far, and school-specific effectiveness studies have only been carried out in isolated cases. Effects on the level of the supervisee system are (unspecifically) proven: the supervised state that they benefit from supervision, team communication improves, problem awareness increases. Positive changes in the communication structures in a supervision group were proven , which opens up a new research perspective on supervision processes ( discourse analysis ) and suggests the convergence of methods of research into the effects of school and supervisory learning processes. Burnout prophylactic effects on the level of the client / patient system have not yet been proven, contrary to what is often assumed. Numerous studies showed up to 2009: the acceptance in the various fields is very different, in socio-educational areas it is good, in clinical and gerontological areas it is not very high. In three multicenter studies (DA-CH), the surveyed sisters, carers, geriatric workers complained about a lack of field competence (e.g. institutional knowledge) and specialist competence (knowledge of nursing and gerontology) among their supervisors (only 30% of the supervisors were in this Area as field / professional competence).

Supervision in psychotherapy training

In the training of psychotherapists in Germany, supervision is mandatory in accordance with the “Training and Examination Regulations for Psychological Psychotherapists (PsychTh-APrV)”. This involves the monitoring of the therapeutic activity of the therapist being trained by an experienced colleague or teaching therapist. The qualification of the supervising therapist is determined in the training regulations:

"§ 4 Practical training:

(3) Prerequisites for recognition as a supervisor in accordance with paragraph 2 sentence 2 are:

1. at least five years of psychotherapeutic activity in the treatment of patients after obtaining a license to practice as a psychological psychotherapist or after completing further medical training in psychotherapy, with a focus on the scientifically recognized procedure that is the subject of practical training,

2. a teaching activity of at least three years at a training facility and

3. personal suitability. "

See also


  • Maija Becker-Kontio ao: Supervision and organizational advice in hospitals: experiences - analyzes - concepts. Juventa, Weinheim 2004.
  • Nando Belardi: Supervision. Basics, techniques, perspectives. CH Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-44757-0 .
  • Albrecht Boeckh: Method-integrative supervision. A guide for training and practice (= learning to live. 210). Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-608-89063-1 .
  • Ferdinand Buer (Ed.): Practice of psychodramatic supervision. A manual. Leske & Budrich, Opladen 2001, ISBN 3-8100-3073-2 .
  • Saskia Erbring: Educationally professional communication. An empirical study on the professionalization of teachers under supervision. Schneider-Verlag Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2007, ISBN 978-3-8340-0172-6 (also: Cologne, University, dissertation, 2006).
  • Gerhard Fatzer (Ed.): Supervision and advice. A manual. 11th edition. EHP - Edition Humanistische Psychologie, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-926176-27-X .
  • Hartwig Hansen: A to Z of the interventions in groups. Flipchart tools for advice, supervision and team development. Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta Verlag, 2017, ISBN 978-3-608-89186-7
  • Monika Heuring, Hilarion G. Petzold: Role theories, role conflicts, identity, attributions - integrative and differential perspectives on the importance of social-psychological concepts for the practice of supervision. 2004, (PDF; 1.08 MB).
  • David Keel: Quality of supervision. K-Kommunikation, St. Gallen 2003, ISBN 3-906792-00-5 .
  • Norbert Lip Meier (Ed.): Contributions to supervision. 10 volumes, Verlag Gesamtthochschule Kassel, 1995.
  • Hilarion G. Petzold: Integrative supervision, meta-consulting, organizational development. A manual for models and methods of reflective practice. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. VS - Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-14585-3 .
  • Hilarion G. Petzold, Brigitte Schigl, Martin Fischer, Claudia Höfner: supervision on the test bench. Effectiveness, research, fields of application, innovation. Opladen, Leske + Budrich 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3790-7 .
  • Harald Pühl (ed.): The current manual of supervision. Models, practice, perspectives. Psychosocial Verl. Giessen 2017, ISBN 978-3-8379-2645-3 .
  • Harald Pühl (Ed.): Supervision and organizational development. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. VS - Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-531-15877-8 .
  • Kornelia Rappe-Giesecke: Supervision for groups and teams. 3rd, completely revised and updated edition. Springer, Berlin et al. 2003, ISBN 3-540-44298-7 (At the same time: Kassel, Gesamtthochschule, dissertation, 1988: Group supervision as a catalyst for the change of the individual and the institution. ).
  • Astrid Schreyögg : Supervision. An integrative model. Textbook on theory and practice. 4th, revised and expanded edition. VS - Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-8100-4099-1 .
  • Silvia Schibli, Katja Supersaxo: Introduction to supervision. Haupt UTB, Bern / Stuttgart / Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-8252-3249-8
  • Brigitte Schigl, Hilarion G. Petzold: Evaluation of training in integrative supervision with a specialization focus on the clinical-geriatric field - an accompanying research project. In: Integrative Therapy. Vol. 23, No. 1/2, 1997, ISSN  0342-6831 , pp. 85-145.
  • Martin J. Waibel: Integrative supervision in the training of physiotherapists - an investigation. In: Supervision: Theory - Practice - Research. An interdisciplinary internet magazine. 12/2004, (PDF; 200.12 KB).

Web links


Individual evidence

  2. Dan Remenyi, Arthur H. Money: Research supervision for supervisors and Their students . Academic Conferences International, Kidmore End 2004, ISBN 0-9547096-0-8 .
  3. ^ Hilarion G. Petzold, Brigitte Schigl, Martin Fischer, Claudia Höfner: Supervision on the test stand. Effectiveness, research, fields of application, innovation. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 978-3-8100-3790-9 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-663-11568-7 .
  4. ^ Pfab, A. / Pfab. W .: Coaching . In: Habscheid, S. et al. (Ed.): Handbook Language in Organizations . deGruyter, Berlin a. a. 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-029581-8 , pp. 424-443 .
  5. Junkers G .: Supervision, concept and organizational development in working with old people. In: Pühl H. (Ed.): Handbook Supervision and Organizational Development . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2009, ISBN 978-3-531-15877-8 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-531-91556-2_22 .
  6. Training and Examination Ordinance for Psychological Psychotherapists of December 18, 1998