A Fair Exchange: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Universities and Clinical Placement Supervisors


  • Elizabeth A. Sheils Department of Psychology, University of Bath
  • Maria E. Loades DClinPsy, Department of Psychology, University of Bath
  • Andrew R. Medley Macmillan Clinical Psychologist, Department of Oncology, Torbay Hospital
  • Elizabeth M. Marks DClinPsy, Department of Psychology, University of Bath




belongingness, connectedness, placement, reciprocity, supervision


Clinical psychology training in the UK relies heavily upon supervised clinical practice placements. Placement supervisors have a significant responsibility for providing trainees with the learning experiences required for qualification. The role is demanding and whilst the university benefits greatly, it is less clear what supervisors receive in return. This is important when one considers how positive relationships and social action are influenced by reciprocity and a sense of belongingness. Despite its importance, no research has directly explored the relationship between supervisors and the university in a clinical psychology training context. This novel study sought to explore how supervisors perceive their role and their connectedness / belongingness to the university, and whether technology utilized by other areas of pedagogy led to improvements. Access to electronic resources was sent to clinical placement supervisors (n=100). A subset of these (n=7) signed up to complete a semi-structured interview. The interviews were analysed using template analysis. Common themes emerged, including perceived benefits of the supervisor role, such as feeling connected to the training course, despite significant challenges and demands. The provision of electronic resources was found to have the potential to enhance connectedness for all stakeholders. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth A. Sheils, Department of Psychology, University of Bath

Elizabeth Sheils has recently completed an MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Bath. She now works as a research assistant on a number of projects at the university. Her research interests include chronic health conditions, mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy. 

Maria E. Loades, DClinPsy, Department of Psychology, University of Bath

Dr Loades is a Clinical Tutor for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology course. She is a qualified Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and an accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP). Her research interests include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for children and young people, therapeutic alliance and CBT supervision. 

Andrew R. Medley, Macmillan Clinical Psychologist, Department of Oncology, Torbay Hospital

Dr Medley is a clinical psychologist working in oncology. His research interests focus upon Compassion-focused therapy approaches in the context of cancer and other physical health conditions and compassion in healthcare systems – supporting staff teams.

Elizabeth M. Marks, DClinPsy, Department of Psychology, University of Bath

Dr Marks is a Lecturer and Clinical Tutor on the University of Bath Doctorate in Clinical Psychology course. She is also a qualified chartered Clinical Psychologist working at University College London Hospitals. She is registered with the HCPC and an accredited CBT therapist with BABCP. Her research interests focus on CBT for adults and in the context of chronic physical health conditions, and mindfulness-based approaches. 


Baumeister, R.F. and Leary, M.R. (1995) The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117 (3), 497–529 doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497

Baumeister, R.F., Twenge, J.M., and Nuss, C.K. (2002) Effects of social exclusion on cognitive processes: Anticipated aloneness reduces intelligent thought. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83 (4), 817–827 doi:10.1037/0022-3514.83.4.817

Bernard, J.M. and Goodyear, R.K. (1992) Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision. Boston: Allyn & Bacon

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101 doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Brooks, J., McCluskey, S., Turley, E., and King, N. (2015) The utility of template analysis in qualitative psychology research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12 (2), 202–222 doi:10.1080/14780887.2014.955224

Cohen, D. and Crabtree, B. (2006) Qualitative Research Guidelines Project. [online] available from http://www.qualres.org/index.html

Dale, B., Leland, A., and Dale, J.G. (2013) What factors facilitate good learning experiences in clinical studies in nursing: Bachelor students’ perceptions. ISRN Nursing [online] Article 628679 available from http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/628679 [11 May 2016]

Drab-Hudson, D.L., Whisenhunt, B.L., Shoptaugh, C.F., Newman, M.C., Rost, A., and Fondren-Happel, R.N. (2012) Transforming introductory psychology: A systematic approach to course redesign. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 11 (2), 146–157 doi:10.2304/plat.2012.11.2.146

Falender, C.A. (2014) Supervision outcomes: Beginning the journey beyond the emperor’s new clothes. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8(3), 143–148 doi: 10.1037/tep0000066

Falender, C.A., Cornish, J.A. E., Goodyear, R., Hatcher, R., Kaslow, N.J., Leventhal, G., Shafranske, E., Sigmon, S.T., Stoltenberg, C., and Grus, C. (2004) Defining competencies in psychology supervision: A consensus statement. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60 (7), 771–785 doi:10.1002/jclp.20013

Gouldner, A. W. (1960) The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25 (2), 161-178 doi:10.2307/2092623

King, N. (2012) Doing template analysis. in Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges. ed by Symon, G. and Cassell, C. London: Sage, 426–450

Levett-Jones, T., Lathlean, J., Maguire, J., and McMillan, M. (2007) Belongingness: A critique of the concept and implications for nursing education. Nurse Education Today, 27 (3), 210–218 doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2006.05.001

Loganbill, C. and Hardy, E. (1983) Developing training programs for clinical supervisors. The Clinical Supervisor, 1 (3), 15–21 doi:10.1300/J001v01n03_03

Mack, N., Woodsong, C., MacQueen, K.M., Guest, G., and Namey, E. (2005) Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide. Research Triangle Park, NC, USA: Family Health International

Maslow, A. H., Frager, R., Fadiman, J., McReynolds, C., and Cox, R. (1970). Motivation and personality (vol. 2). New York: Harper & Row New York.

Milne, D. (2010) Can we enhance the training of clinical supervisors? A national pilot study of an evidence-based approach. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 17 (4), 321–328 doi: 10.1002/cpp.657

Milne, D., Aylott, H., Fitzpatrick, H., and Ellis, M. V. (2008) How does clinical supervision work? Using a ‘best evidence synthesis’ approach to construct a basic model of supervision. The Clinical Supervisor, 27 (2), 170–190 doi:10.1080/07325220802487915

Milne, D. and Westerman, C. (2001) Evidence-based clinical supervision: Rationale and illustration. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 8 (6), 444–457 doi: 10.1002/cpp.297

Milne, D. L., Sheikh, A. I., Pattison, S., and Wilkinson, A. (2011) Evidence-based training for clinical supervisors: A systematic review of 11 controlled studies. The Clinical Supervisor, 30 (1), 53–71 doi:10.1080/07325223.2011.564955

Palomo, M., Beinart, H., and Cooper, M. J. (2010) Development and validation of the Supervisory Relationship Questionnaire (SRQ) in UK trainee clinical psychologists. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49 (2), 131–149 doi:10.1348/014466509X441033

Regan, D. T. (1971) Effects of a favor and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7 (6), 627–639 doi:10.1016/0022-1031(71)90025-4

Steinert, Y., Mann, K., Centeno, A., Dolmans, D., Spencer, J., Gelula, M., and Prideaux, D. (2006) A systematic review of faculty development initiatives designed to improve teaching effectiveness in medical education: BEME Guide No. 8. Medical Teacher, 28 (6), 497–526 doi: 10.1080/01421590600902976

Wertz, F. J. (2005) Phenomenological research methods for counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52 (2), 167–177 doi:10.1037/0022-0167.52.2.167

Wood, B. T., Bolner, O., and Gauthier, P. (2014) Student mental health self-disclosures in classrooms: Perceptions and implications. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 13 (2), 83–94 doi:10.2304/plat.2014.13.2.83




How to Cite

Sheils, E. A., Loades, M. E., Medley, A. R., & Marks, E. M. (2016). A Fair Exchange: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Universities and Clinical Placement Supervisors. International Journal of Practice-Based Learning in Health and Social Care, 4(1), 28–39. https://doi.org/10.18552/ijpblhsc.v4i1.304