We all want to know that when we choose to speak with a therapist about intimate aspects of ourselves this will be treated with confidentiality. But if our therapist is unable to talk about us then how can we be assured that the therapy is going as well as possible?
All therapists who are registered with a professional body must adhere to their code of conduct, and this code of conduct will always include robust supervision arrangements. Supervision offers clients the reassurance that someone is keeping an eye on the therapy and helping the therapist at times that they need it.
What does this supervision involve? This will depend very much on how experienced the therapist is and the type of therapy which is being practiced. For instance in CBT the emphasis with a training therapist will begin with the therapist and client forming a good alliance and supervision may focus initially on this. After all, technique can be found in a book, so the relationship between client and therapist is crucial if this is to be qualitatively different from self help. In saying this, for the training therapist the supervision emphasis will also be on the appropriate, safe and effective delivery of interventions for the problem the client has come with, taking into account variables in a way that the reading a self help book cannot. As the therapist progresses, and as they begin to be able to offer help to people with more complex problems, the supervision emphasis will be more on the therapeutic relationship.
So back to confidentiality. It is by no means essential or perhaps even desirable that the therapist uses the name of the client during supervision. It is helpful to know the gender and approximate age of the client and some relevant background information may be shared. The rule of thumb is to give the least information necessary for the issue to be discussed in a meaningful way. This protects the client’s confidentiality and also ensures that supervision is effective in addressing only the issue with which the supervisee is requiring help with.
It is absolutely fine to ask your therapist about their supervision arrangements if you wish, and most therapists will be happy to be open with you about this. After all, if your therapist is talking about you, even without your identity being revealed, you might like to know about this.