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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;25(4):322-6. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283541ecc.

Supervision in psychiatry: terra incognita?

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Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.



Supervision is accepted as a part of postgraduate psychiatric training programmes (at least in the western world). However, despite its ubiquity, it is little researched. The purpose of this review was to synthesize research on supervision in psychiatry in the last 3 years (2009-2011). Given the dearth of such research, the boundary was extended to include general medicine and other mental health professions.


The lack of research into supervision in psychiatry was confirmed by a comprehensive search of literature. The few articles published specific to psychiatry did, however, reflect the position of psychiatry, bridging medicine and the psychotherapies. Thus, they span from the impact of workplace-based assessments and reframing the theories of learning applicable to psychiatric training, through to the learning of psychotherapy by psychiatric trainees.The literature on supervision in general medicine is dominated by the impact of competency-based training, with its associated methods of assessment, and issues around the decision to entrust trainees with various professional activities.The psychotherapy supervision literature has been notable for two disparate themes: the centenary of psychotherapeutic supervision in 2009 prompted a number of scholars to write reflective pieces capturing advances and areas for further research; whereas the development of evidence-based clinical supervision has given rise to a considerable body of work.


Research into supervision in psychiatry remains largely a terra incognita. If supervision is to continue to occupy a role as a key component of psychiatric training, research to justify that is needed urgently.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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