Supervision with me

I am currently working online, using Zoom. Face to face work is possible in NE England on Mondays from November 2022.

I’m a BACP Senior Accredited Supervisor, with many years NHS and private practice experience. I offer supervision for qualified person-centred and humanistic counsellors/therapists, and for practitioners in other helping professions.

I would hope to encourage you to explore work with clients without feeling defensive or judged. You may also wish to be open to a fresh perspective on your practice, and may appreciate appropriate challenge in the spirit of mutual interest in developing your learning edge.

My aim is to help you develop in your reflective practice. I would hope to support you in making ongoing and richer connections between your theory and practice.

I aim to offer a safe and stimulating space in which you can share both successes and dilemmas. We will mutually explore best practice and find creative ways to express it in your work.

I work with close regard to counselling contexts, whether place of work or training organisation.

I appear on the The Anti-Discrimination Race Aware Directory ( and I’m a member of the Yorkshire Supervisors Forum (

I have been working in mental health (NHS, private practice, counselling agencies, EAP, universities) since 2002, and am a BACP Senior Accredited Supervisor. I have substantial experience offering individual and group supervision to counsellors/therapists in private practice, to NHS staff, to staff in counselling agencies, and to non-counsellor helping professionals.

Supervision is available in one-hour, 90 minute or 2-hour sessions. Fees are £50 per hour. The BACP Ethical Framework (or equivalent) will generally inform our discussions around ethical issues you encounter.

Choosing the right supervisor is important to your practice. I welcome you to come and talk openly and freely about your supervision needs in a non-chargeable half-hour meeting.

Do contact me on 07880 864354, or via, if you’d like to find out more.

Ruth McIlroy Reg MBACP(Snr Accred Practitioner and Supervisor), MA(Hons),BSc(Hons)Person-centred Psychotherapy, DipCouns, Adv.Dip CBT Skills, PG Dip Supervision, EMDR Europe qualified practitioner.

As a Senior Accredited Supervisor of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, I am bound by its ethical framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy and subject to the Professional Conduct Procedure. I hold full professional indemnity insurance.

Supervision as Plumbing and Poetry

Gaie Houston says that supervision is essentially policing, plumbing and poetry. (I’ll take a quick look at ‘policing’ at the end).

She reckons that the ‘plumbing’ aspect covers the knowledge and wisdom which the supervisor hopes to impart – I’d add the hope of blending this with the knowledge and wisdom of the supervisee. And she says the ‘poetry’ part covers the supervision relationship.

This is perhaps another way of saying what Keith Tudor and Mike Worrall say in Freedom to Practise, their book about a person-centred approach to supervision. They take Rogers’ seven continua of change (sometimes referred to as the Seven Stages), and believe that supervision works when supervisees can move along these continua, from fixity to fluidity, from rigidity to flexibility, towards self-trust and trust in clients, towards realising the facts are friendly, towards a freer way of relating in the therapeutic relationship.

Another offering from Gaie Houston is that research shows that supervisees most want and prize the following four qualities in their supervisor: interest, respect, honesty and warmth.

These are the ways of speaking about supervision which resonate best for me.

Perhaps a good way to reframe ‘policing’ is by seeing it as a path towards making use of whatever doubts or mistakes a supervisee might bring about their practice, in the spirit of ever-developing best practice. Often the supervisee will be their own worst critic. And what the supervisor can bring is perhaps the fruits of their experience in interpreting ethical codes and in making sense of difficult ethical dilemmas.

“How will you let me know if what we talk about feels uncomfortable?”

I think that one of the most important things supervision can help with is the supervisee’s development of an undefensive approach towards feedback from the client, indeed welcoming it.

Do no harm’ is the first ethical imperative of therapy. Apparently, there’s not much research based on clients’ experience of therapy going wrong.

Yet it’s a common occurrence. At a recent workshop, we heard that approximately 30% of clients ‘do well’, 30% ‘do quite well’, 30% notice little difference, and 1-5% ‘feel worse’ after therapy.

We also heard that client experience usually comes well below psychometrics in importance when researchers are measuring how therapy went.

‘Opening Pandora’s box’ (and leaving the client with no support to deal with the consequences) was the bad outcome most frequently mentioned by clients who feel worse after therapy. They also talk about bad effects of therapist power and control. After I’d read through the many quotes from disaffected clients, I had such a sad sense of how people can become shamed, defensive and hopeless after a therapy experience.

At the workshop, we heard of several ways of doing the least possible harm (harm being seen as unavoidable, in the same way that medicines usually do good but by their nature have an inescapable ability to do harm occasionally). Some of the tips passed on were –

Being honest as to what you can’t help with.
Telling clients the risks (using the rough percentages above)
And telling them some of the factors which will help them get the better results (eg attendance, openness, responsiveness etc)

Crucially, these help the client to feel ‘IT’S NOT MY FAULT IF I DON’T FEEL BETTER’.

There were more ways to reduce the risk of harm to clients. Doing a genuine assessment with a jointly-created plan and goals, if you work in that way. Checking out what’s been helpful, and what’s been difficult, at the end of a session. (I should think there are ways to discover this without direct questions). I really liked this one below – saying to a client

“How will you let me know if what we talk about feels uncomfortable?”.

That seems to open a door to honest feedback where neither therapist nor client feels defensive or critical, and great possibilities for tuning in to eachother with a new depth.

Have a look at if you are interested in incorporating any of these ideas into your practice. There are some really good ideas on the Practical Advice for Therapists page.

The workshop was addressed by Professor Glenys Parry and Professor Gillian Hardy, both of the University of Sheffield, who are actively working in this field.

The mindful path to self-compassion


From The mindful path to self-compassion by Christopher K Germer

‘Compassion and loving-kindness are skills – not gifts that we’re born with or not – and each of us, without exception, can develop and strengthen these skills and bring them into our everyday lives’

‘We can benefit by turning towards our emotional pain (bringing kindness to ourselves)…. Leaning into our problems with open eyes and an open heart – with awareness and compassion- is the process by which we get emotional relief.’

Ripening on the tree


Here’s a wonderful quote from Irving Yalom’s ‘Love’s Executioner’

‘a therapist helps not by sifting through the past but by being lovingly present with that person; by being trustworthy, interested; and by believing that their joint activity will ultimately be redeeming and healing…. any therapeutic, cathartic or intellectual project is healing only because it provides therapist and patient with some interesting shared activity while the real therapeutic force – the relationship – is ripening on the tree’.