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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Jouannet

The 7 eyed model of supervision (with an optional 8th!)


Hawkins and Shohet's 7 eyed model is one of the most common theoretical models used in the supervision of counselling and psychotherapy. This is the model I prefer to use with both experienced practitioners and trainee therapists because it feels like a robust yet creative container for our work. It is playful and imaginative and attends to unconscious processes as well as the practicalities and facts of a therapeutic relationship. It is expansive and active because therapist and supervisor are always shifting focus and adjusting our view of the therapeutic work.


Eye 1 focuses on the client themselves and the counsellor is invited to tell the supervisor the background and context of the client. What has brought them into therapy? What are their concerns? The practical information is shared here.


Eye 2 turns toward the interventions the counsellor is using or may try to use with the client. If the counsellor feels stuck, they may ask themselves what has worked already and what may be useful to try. Some useful questions to ask from this eye could be, "tell me about what you said just before the client shut down" or "let's brainstorm 10 different ways you could have responded to the client in that moment".


Eye 3 is directed onto the relationship between counsellor and client. How does the therapist feel as they sit with their client? This eye is about noticing the dynamics in the 'in between' that may be impacting the effectiveness of the therapy. Questions such as, "if you were both animals, what you would be and why?" or "If you were shipwrecked on a desert island with this client, what would you both do?"


Eye 4 looks inward, to the counsellor's own inner processes and feelings towards their client. We explore the countertransference arising in the counsellor when sitting with the client. Exploring these processes ensures that the counsellor does not act from a place of unawareness or impulse in the therapeutic work.


Eye 5 is a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between the counsellor and the supervisor. Parallel process may arise in which the counsellor responds 'as if' they were their client and the supervisor 'as if' they were the counsellor. This is an eye that invites exploration of unconscious processes and great care needs to be taken to tune into the images, fantasies and thoughts that arise between counsellor and supervisor, which may offer valuable insight into the client's process " I am curious how the dynamic you're describing between yourself and your client may be happening here between us now..."


Eye 6 is the supervisor's inner responses to their supervisee (the counsellor). This can also include eye 6a and the supervisor's fantasy relationship with the client. Attention is turned through this eye to the countertransference inside the supervisor towards the counsellor and any potential parallels between the relationship between the counsellor and their client.


Eye 7 surrounds everything. This eye is focused on the wider system in which the supervision and therapy takes place. Issues such as pressures of the workplace, workload, external expectations, and how wider, social and political issues manifest in the lives of the client, counsellor and supervisor and how this impacts the relationships between them. We can not escape the influence of Eye 7 and a lot of my work with trainee counsellors and counsellors working in schools is considered through this eye.


Eye 8 is a more recent addition to the model and looks to the transpersonal, or spiritual influences surrounding the therapeutic work. This may come in and out of focus more strongly for particular clients with certain world views, for example religious or spiritual beliefs. This eye focuses on what is bigger than our human experiences.


Please contact me if you are interested in discussing a potential supervisory relationship. I would be interested in hearing your views on this way of working.


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