The Intervision Process and its Benefits

In our previous article we introduced you to Empathic Intervision as a new peer-to-peer structured method of interaction for groups working together to identify opportunities and co-create solutions. We described how it supplements intervision with the advantages of layered empathic capacities to aid deeper hearing of each other and consideration of each other’s perspectives.Today we continue by describing how intervision differs from supervision, how the intervision process itself works and how it contributes to well-being, personal growth, innovation and learning for individuals, organisations and groups.

How does intervision differ from supervision?

Both intervision and supervision are about vision, in that they address situations, challenges and problems to envision a preferred situation or outcome. However, with the prefix of inter- in place of super-, emphasis in intervision is on a multilateral exchange between peers or colleagues. There is a transverse, horizontal integration rather than vertical alignment of knowledge transfer. In intervision, suspicions around the influence of challenges discussed on job performance evaluations are no issue. Intervision is aimed at personal and team growth with the help of peers.

Supervision, on the other hand, is a hierarchical process that involves a supervisor meeting and interacting with a worker to review their work. It typically involves a manager offering developmental activities to employees. It also includes a monitoring and support component whereby a manager supports the worker to deal with complex situations and dilemmas. Supervision is commonly used in medical, psychological and social practice where it is considered essential for effective practice (Munson, 1981).

Typical components of Intervision Methods

Although many different methods exist to help structure intervision meetings, most of them go through similar phases. First, an incident, question, success story or problem is chosen as the focus of that specific meeting. The person introducing the issue explains, often with as much detail as possible, what is going on. Peers listen, and possibly take notes.

Then a round of clarification takes place. Peers try to clarify as much as possible all potential angles on the issue. A common way of doing this is to question the provider of the topic or to discuss amongst peers what they see as the issue at hand. Advice is never given. This round is meant solely for clarification and, if applicable, problem definition. Sometimes, this process needs to be repeated because aspects can still seem unclear.

The third phase entails a round of experience sharing. Peers share their own experiences and insights as well as possible behavioural alternatives. In this divergent phase, as many solutions, answers or suggestions as possible are gathered and centrally noted down.

The fourth phase returns the issue at hand to its introducer. This is a phase of reflection, possible clarification of suggestions, and the forming of a ‘plan of action’: a way for the person introducing the issue to reflect on all the suggestions provided and determine a way to move forward. Often, all people taking part in the intervision reflect back on the session and share what they themselves have learned from it. This can also include an evaluation of how people have worked together and one’s own contribution to the shared working.

Although the above-mentioned process might seem individualistic in nature, it does not have to be. Different methods highlight different aspects and ways of working. Important is that the topic discussed lies within the field of influence of the participants. I.e., not everyone within an organisation has the capacity to change the existing organisational culture. A more adapted question in that type of situation is how one can successfully work with or within it.

The benefits of Intervision

Intervision, and indeed Empathic Intervision, enjoys many characteristics and benefits:


The intervision methods in general and the Empathic Intervision in particular create a feeling of connection amongst participants working together. The nature of the process strengthens their sense of belonging to the organization and group. It also facilitates a shared purpose, a common understanding and a common perception of value.

Personal growth

The structure of Empathic Intervision provides for reflection on self through self-empathy practice. Participants in the group are encouraged to learn to reflect on their own actions, become more aware of motives and take responsibility for the effects of their actions on others and on the work as a whole.


The emphasis on shared expertise and experience and the promotion and engagement of diversity of roles, perspectives, expertise and experience provides a fertile ground for innovation. Empathic intervision encourages people to challenge their perspective, thus avoiding entrenching single realities. It provides the people in the group with a sounding board for their ideas. This diminishes groupthink while building cohesion and leads to a collaborative culture and collective responsibility.


Intervision enables a learning culture in your organization. The combined focus on work and learning practice ensures that what is learnt during training is implemented at work. Technical training is applied to complex situations and the supportive role of peers with diverse knowledge and experience means that someone else in the group is likely to have the practical experience to move things forward.

The process provides a platform to learn from, and with, colleagues. By giving and receiving feedback, you contribute to each other’s development and help each other to perform better at work. It leads to experiential learning as it gives you and the group access to alternative ideas, consequently helping to shift directions and test new approaches.

In the third article in this series, we will show how the benefits of intervision as discussed here, and the shortfalls of intervision as discussed next time, are respectively enhanced and addressed by using an Empathic Intervision practice. We will also position Empathic Intervision in modern organisational climates.