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Pastoral Supervision

One of the recommendations of the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing is that clergy receive pastoral supervision. The key to this working is that the Pastoral Supervisor is skilled and independent. There is an Association for Pastoral supervisors:

The Association for Pastoral Supervision and Education (APSE)

This is what the website says:

Who are we?

APSE is a network of people and organisations involved in pastoral supervision, and interested in training pastoral supervisors. Our members include healthcare chaplains, local clergy, spiritual directors, theological educators, church education officers, and pastoral counsellors.

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.
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