Professional Supervision

A Definition  

via the Association of Pastoral Supervisors and Educators: UK

Pastoral Supervision is

  • a regular, planned intentional and boundaried space in which a practitioner skilled in supervision (the supervisor) meets with one or more other practitioners (the supervisees) to look together at the supervisees’ practice
  • a relationship characterised by trust, confidentiality, support and openness that gives the supervisee freedom and safety to explore the issues arising in their work
  • Spiritually/theologically rich – works within a framework of spiritual/theological understanding in dialogue with the supervisee’s world view and work
  • psychologically informed – draws on relevant psychological theory and insight to illuminate intra-personal and inter-personal dynamics
  • contextually sensitive – pays attention to the particularities of setting, culture and world-view
  • praxis based – focuses on a report of work and /or issues that arise in and from the supervisee’s pastoral practice
  • a way of growing in vocational identity, pastoral competence, self awareness, spiritual/theological reflection, pastoral interpretation, quality of presence, accountability, response to challenge, mutual learning
  • attentive to issues of fitness to practice, skill development, management of boundaries, professional identity and the impact of the work upon all concerned parties

Pastoral Supervision is not

  • Spiritual accompaniment – for the sole or primary purpose of exploring the spiritual life and development of the supervisee(s). Aspects of this may arise in Pastoral Supervision but are not the main focus.
  • Counselling – for the purpose of helping the supervisee(s) gain insight into their personal dynamics, or helping the supervisee(s) to resolve or live more positively with their psycho-social limitations. Aspects of this may arise in Pastoral Supervision and, if necessary, the supervisee(s) may be encouraged to seek counselling support.
  • Line management – for the purpose of addressing professional practice and development issues in relationship to the supervisee(s)’s performance and accountability (whether paid or voluntary) to her/his employer. Aspects of this may arise in Pastoral Supervision but are not the main focus.

Reference:  Jane Leach & Michael Peterson,  Pastoral Supervision A Handbook,(London: SCM, 2010), 205




The Revd Jonathan Chambers

Ministry supervision and support


The Revd Rosaleen Rudd

Assistant Minister, St John's Daimond Creek