Importance of Modality and Medium in Choosing a Supervisor

Importance of Modality and Medium in Choosing a Supervisor

When you are choosing a supervisor, it’s important that there is a good match between you. Two key aspects of this match are:

  • Modality (person-centred therapy, CBT, psychodynamic therapy etc.)
  • the medium(s) through which you practise (face-to-face, telephone, online video etc.).

Find Counselling Supervisors who are Qualified to oversee your work Online.

Are you working online or on the telephone? Find a supportive supervisor who reflects your modality, mode of working, and location. 


Matching modalities

In general, it makes sense for the supervisee and supervisor to be trained in and practising the same modality. This ensures that both are working from the same theoretical base, and thus facilitates consistency in therapeutic approach. Sharing the same modality is important not only in discussing the supervisee’s work with clients but also in the style of supervision itself – with the modality often being evident in the manner in which the supervisor carries out their supervision work.

Carroll – whose 1994 study identified seven tasks of supervision (relationship, teaching, counselling, monitoring, evaluation, consultation and administration) – found that the way in which each supervisor implements these tasks depends on their own therapeutic modality, and their training. Thus, the seven tasks may look very different at first sight between different supervisors’ work.

Carroll also found that:

  • the teaching methods employed by particular supervisors related to their background, beliefs and modality
  • the methods used to evaluate the supervisee’s skills (particularly when supervising students of counselling and psychotherapy) also varied by supervisor modality. For example, audio-recorded sessions were often important to supervisors in humanistic modalities but less so in psychodynamic work, where recording sessions was often seen as interfering with the process.

Contrasting modalities

It may be that you are considering seeking the experience of having a different approach to supervision, as a way of developing new perspectives on both your client work and your personal development.

Given the fundamental importance of theory to therapeutic practice, it is generally considered wise not to venture into such new territory at an early stage of your career. However, doing so might possibly be valuable at a later stage, once you have thoroughly embedded your own modality in your practice and underpinning knowledge.

BACP (2020, p. 7) raises this possibility as follows; ‘You may also wish to consider your therapeutic modality and philosophy when choosing a supervisor. For instance, if your work is primarily CBT-focused, would you benefit more from a CBT-oriented supervisor or from the experience of a practitioner with a more integrative approach?’

If you do decide to experiment in this way, it may still make sense to choose a supervisor who has an in-depth understanding of your own modality, so enabling you together to compare and contrast approaches, rather than you having to work this out alone.

Adding modalities

Some therapists – having trained in a particular modality – may later decide to add additional approaches to their repertoire. If you do this, it may trigger a change of supervisor to one who can supervise in both your original and your new modalities.

Medium of Working

What to look for

Your supervisor should also have a thorough understanding of the mediums of working that you use. This requires having completed specific training and practice experience – so do ask specific questions about both of these. Given that online working was much less widespread prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when it grew suddenly and exponentially, not all supervisors will have this background.

If you are counselling online, then you need a supervisor who is competent in the following areas:

  • risks related to online working
  • psychological processes that present online (in both clients and supervisees)
  • considerations of working regionally or internationally
  • how to manage therapeutic ruptures in the online space
  • online security (for the client and the counsellor)
  • how to manage online endings.

Ethical-body standards

As a result of the huge growth in online working among counsellors and psychotherapists, ethical bodies redefined the standards they expected of supervision, as explained here by the BACP (2022, p. 15):

It is important to receive at least some elements of regular supervision through the same medium/media of communication as is/are being used with clients to gain direct experience of both perspectives of the chosen ways of working and to have a shared understanding of their strengths and limitations.

BACP (ibid.) adds: ‘Supervisors are encouraged to be open and explicit about their own experience and training to work online when advertising their services.’ If you are using a directory to help you choose a supervisor, do ensure that it is one that checks its members’ qualifications and experience.

Find Counselling Supervisors who are Qualified to oversee your work Online.

Are you working online or on the telephone? Find a supportive supervisor who reflects your modality, mode of working, and location. 


BACP. (2020). Good Practice in Action: Commonly Asked Questions Resource 008: How to choose a supervisor [online]. BACP. [Viewed 4/5/22]. Available from:

BACP. (2022). Working online in the counselling professions [online]. BACP. [Viewed 4/5/22]. Available from:

Carroll, M. (1994). The Generic Tasks of Supervision: An Analysis of Supervisee Expectations, Supervisor Interviews and Supervisory Audio-Taped Sessions. PhD thesis, University of Surrey. [Viewed 4/5/22]. Available from:

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Importance of Modality and Medium in Choosing a Supervisor