Safe and Effective Use of Self (SEUS) Reflection

“My supervisor’s willingness to be vulnerable and use herself as a tool in supervision made me believe that she could be “in it” with me in a real way and created trust and openness that significantly altered our supervisory process and affected me both professionally and personally” -Contrastano, 2020

Remember (!): Developing self-awareness as an empirically tested need for both supervisors and clinicians alike Self-awareness is necessary for appropriate use of self in both therapy and supervision settings Supervisors and counsellors must be able to monitor their own biases and effects on others Critical reflection goes beyond simply looking back on events, but also processing, hypothesizing, and shaping your future actions. The safe and effective use of self is quickly becoming a necessary competency in the counselling profession. SEUS refers to the psychotherapist’s “learned capacity to understand their own subjective context and patterns of interaction as they inform the therapeutic relationship” (

Furthermore, SEUS speaks to the “psychotherapist’s self-reflective use of his or her personality, insights, perceptions and judgments in order to optimize interactions with clients in the therapeutic process” (CRPO, 2019). The counsellor’s (and supervisor’s!) ability to understand their self and impact on the other is fundamental for a healthy and functioning working relationship. Ultimately, proper use of self in therapy and supervision has the potential to greatly improve clinical relationships, supervisory alliances, and clinical outcomes. Requiring an ever evolving reflective practice, SEUS is a competency that certainly develops over time and necessitates active engagement by the clinician. Specifically, SEUS asks for awareness and sensitivity to power imbalances, insight into the self (i.e., your held values, beliefs, biases), and appropriate use of boundaries specifically with self-disclosures in session. Remember: A strong clinical relationship is fundamental to change –both in supervision and counselling. Mastering SEUS ultimate allows for a safe environment to explore challenging emotions and issues that may arise. To reiterate, SEUS requires a strong reflective capacity with the ultimate goal of understanding personal biases, as well as having a solid awareness of how you impact the other.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”

Jillian Papineau