About the project

Basic information

Project title: Supervised practice of psychologists: Development of a training programme for mentors and a model of supervised practice
Project acronym: SUPER PSIHOLOG
Programme: Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 (Note (1) – see below)
Area of the call in Set A: Public Health Initiatives
Sub-area “Public Health Initiatives”: Improved mental health services
Project duration: 21 months
Start date: February 5, 2015
End date: October 31, 2016 (first approved till April 30, 2016, later extended to Oct 31, 2016)
Overall value of the project: 347.599,80 EUR
Total eligible costs of the project: 299.926,80 EUR
The share of the grant for co-financing of project: 86,29%

Project partners

Project Promoter: University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts
Partner 1: Slovenian Psychologists’ Association
Partner 2: Norwegian Psychological Association
Partner 3: University of Primorska, Andrej Marušič Institute
Partner 4: Institute for Developmental Projects in Psychological Counselling – ISA institute

Goals and target groups

General goal: Improved mental health services

Target groups: The target group were psychologists, primarily psychologists beginners. In Slovenia there are about 2,000 psychologists. Many of them work in the mental health field. Psychology studies are general due to a small labour market in Slovenia and enable employment in various fields, which means that students cannot develop all the competences needed for practicing in a specific area. There are limited possibilities to enter health, education and other institutions during the studies. Thus, psychologists beginners (there are approx. 100 graduates annually) have a need for being supervised by an experienced psychologist and gradually integrated into psychological practice. A year of supervised practice is also required by the EuroPsy certificate. The goal of the project was to include 50 psychologists beginners from different regions who have recently completed their studies and want to do a (voluntary) traineeship or regular work under the supervision of a qualified mentor, and 25 psychology students from University of Maribor and Ljubljana during the internship in their final year of the study. Mentors (25) coming from different regions and different fields of work supervised them. Mentors first got educated about the mentoring process. In a part of the training program that was offered also to 50 other psychologists, they upgraded their competences in the field of mental health. During the year of supervised practice they used this knowledge and transfered it to mentorees.

Objectives of the project

General project objectives: Improved mental health services

Project outcome: Greater capacity in the field of mental health professionals in primary health care and other professionals
Outcome location: Pomurje, Podravje, Koroška, Osrednjeslovenska, Gorenjska, Zasavska, Dolenjska, Notranjsko-kraška, Goriška, Obalno-kraška, Spodnje-posavska, Savinjska

Outcome indicator: 155 trained employees


Mental health disorders, e.g. anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, suicidal behaviour, burnout, are among of the most serious threats against social development and cost European countries more than any other disease group. A necessary condition to deal with these problems is to provide high quality psychological services. The goal of these services is to treat and prevent mental diseases and milder psychological problems, but also to develop the potentials of individuals and to promote their mental health. Psychologists work in different areas: in health care as clinical psychologists and in medicine of work, traffic and sports, as school counsellors, in social welfare, various public institutions (kindergartens, homes for the elderly, youth homes), army and police, civil defence, criminal institutions and in justice (as forensic experts), in enterprises (in personnel departments), public administration (ministries and their offices), NGOs, etc. They work with different groups (children, adolescents, adults, various vulnerable groups), which is why it is reasonable to include among the mental health promotion activities also the provision of high quality psychological services.

The most effective measure to provide high quality psychological services is a period of supervised practice for newly educated psychologists. The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations has established the EuroPsy certificate, which is a standard for psychologists’ education and training in Europe. This standard requires that in addition to 5 years of education there must be one year of supervised practice before a psychologist can start to practice independently. During supervised practice psychologists beginners develop competences that they could not yet have developed during the studies: they develop their professional role, integrate practical and theoretical knowledge and skills and implement them in a real work setting, obtain competences for work with specific groups of clients, develop professional responsiveness and self-reflection, cope with real ethical dilemmas. In all this, they need help, support and guidance which can be offered by an experienced psychologist qualified for mentoring, who knows what competences need to be developed in psychologists beginners and how.

In Slovenia, approx. 100 psychologists graduate annually. Most of them receive no such guidance. For jobs in health care, education, social care and public administration they must complete a traineeship and state exam, but the traineeship is often not sufficiently systematic, does not necessarily develop specific professional competences, sometimes a mentor is not even a psychologist or is not properly trained for mentoring. In other areas, e.g. in the economy, a traineeship and state exam are not required at all. Thus, it is necessary to introduce supervised practice for all psychologists and set standards for it, to educate mentors and to introduce supervision of mentoring.

Contribution of the project to solving the issue

In the project we developed and implemented a comprehensive training program for mentors of supervised practice. It consists of three modules, each module will focus on a particular aspect of mentoring. In Module 1, mentors are trained to identify and develop specific professional competences in psychologists beginners and to assess whether a psychologist beginner is ready to start practicing independently. Module 2 is based on many years of Norwegian Psychological Association’s experience with the supervision of mentors. Mentors learn methods and develop skills of supervision, they learn to establish an appropriate mentoring relationship and to support the professional growth of mentorees. In Module 3, mentors deepen their knowledge in various topics in the field of mental health. They learn how to identify and act preventively in the field of mental health and how to promote mental health. There is a specific focus on aspects of maintaining mental health in mentors themselves and in their mentorees. Mentors learn to support personal growth, self-care and ethical performance of their mentorees. Slovenian Psychologists’ Association will continue with regular mentor training programs after the project is finished.

In the project, 25 mentors were trained. During training, each mentor supervised one student’s internship in the context of the Module 1 activities and two psychologists beginners in the context of the Module 2 and Module 3 activities. Mentors will continue with their mentoring role after the project is finished.

A system of supervised practice was introduced.  We tested the model of supervised practice where the mentor and mentoree meet regularly (every two wwks for two hours) to analyse and reflect on mentoree’s experience. Supervised practice will continue to be implemented after the project is finished, until finally all psychologists will have access to it.

During the project, mentors were included in the regular supervision, where they analysed and reflected upon the experience gained during mentoring. We trained 6 supervisors who, after the project is finished, will permanently supervise the trained mentors as well as those that will attend the mentor training program later.

Based on the experience from the project, guidelines for implementation of supervised practice in Slovenia, training of mentors and supervision of mentoring were developed. Guidelines will be useful not only in Slovenia, but also elsewhere, as these are the first guidelines of this kind in Europe.

Qualified mentors will implement supervised practice better and, consequently, competences of psychologists beginners will improve. With the system of supervision introduced at the same time, the quality of psychological services will increase, which will have a long-term positive impact on the psychologists themselves as well as the users of psychological services and, more generally, on the conditions in the field of mental health. Higher quality psychological services will result in raising the users’ quality of life. With faster detection and prevention of problems in the field of mental health the number of people with such problems will reduce.

(1) Through the Norway Grants and EEA Grants, Norway contributes to reducing social and economic disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with the beneficiary countries in Europe. Norway cooperates closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA).

For the period 2009-14, Norway’s contribution is €1.7 billion. Grants are available for NGOs, research and academic institutions, and the public and private sectors in the 12 newest EU member states, Greece, Portugal and Spain. There is broad cooperation with Norwegian entities, and activities may be implemented until 2016.

Key areas of support are environmental protection and climate change, research and scholarships, civil society, health and children, gender equality, justice and cultural heritage.