Methods and structure

Peer group supervision in six phases

A systematically structured peer group supervision allows for a coordinated and effective consultation process within the peer group.

In peer group supervision, a peer group discusses a work-related case of one of their members. The participants need to coordinate well with each other in order to organise a consultation process that results in meaningful insights for the member who presents the work case. To be able to do so, a clear concept for the structure of peer group supervision is needed which also defines the tasks of each participant.

Here, we outline an excerpt from the structural concept for peer group supervision by Dr. Kim-Oliver Tietze which is comprehensively described in the practical handbook on peer group supervision.

The three roles in peer group supervision

No matter how large the group is: There is always a case presenter, a moderator and peer consultants who maintain their roles during a peer group supervision session.

Icon zur Rolle "Fallerzählende*r" bei kollegialer Beratung, es zeigt eine Kopfsilhouette mit einer Sprechblase

Case presenter

The case presenter is consulted on a recent work-related issue by the peer group. They provide their perspective on the case so that the consultants can obtain an idea of the people involved, the case dynamics, and some related details. They formulate a key question that reflects their current request and helps to identify an appropriate consultation module that will be applied in the consultation phase.

Icon zur Rolle "Moderierende*r" bei kollegialer Beratung, es zeigt eine Kopfsilhouette mit einem stilsierten Kompass


The moderator guides the group through the different phases of peer group supervision. They monitor the guidelines of the consultation process and its respective phases. They invite the consultants to support the case presenter by asking clarifying questions. They take care to ensure that the case presenter’s autonomy is preserved and that the group treats them with respect.

icon for the role of the peer consultants in peer group supervision

Peer consultants

All further participants take part as consultants in the peer group supervision session. They are guided by the moderator. The peer consultants carefully listen to the case presenter’s presentation and ask clarifying questions. In the consultation phase, they share their thoughts, experiences, ideas, and perspectives according to the rules of the previously jointly agreed consultation module.

The process in six phases

The art of peer group supervision lies in a meaningful focus on a complex practical issue. The peer group supervision is structured in different phases that systematically follow each other.

By skilful and structured interaction of the participants, a consultative discussion can emerge that yields productive results for the consultee and is satisfying and insightful for all participants.

Icon zu Phase 1 von kollegialer Beratung: "Casting", es zeigt drei stilisierte Stühle nebeneinander



In an initial short round, peer group members briefly express their need to discuss a current work-related issue that they wish consultation for. Depending on the urgency and importance, the group decides on the next work case to be discussed within the peer group supervision.

Since the case presenter for the following peer group supervision has been selected, the other participants now take on the other roles as moderator, peer consultants and secretary.

One member of the group takes over the role as the moderator who guides the remaining members through the different phases of peer group supervision.

The other participants act as peer consultants. For phase 5 of peer group supervision, one of the peer consultants is appointed »secretary«. The secretary assists the case presenter by taking notes on the ideas that the peer consultants share in phase 5 of peer group supervision. 

When everyone has signalled their readiness, the group can move on to the next phase.

Icon zu Phase 2 von kollegialer Beratung: "Spontanerzählung", es zeigt die Silhouette eines Kopfs mit einer innen befindlichen Weltkugel


Case presentation

The moderator asks the case presenter to outline their current work-related case. Since this is supposed to be a spontaneous narration, preparation for this presentation in advance is not necessary.

For about ten to twelve minutes, the case presenter provides details on what the group should learn about the situation: the people involved, the case dynamics, and some related details. The case presenter is asked to report their current experience from their subjective angle and mention their own behaviour.

The moderator supports the case presenter during the report by listening actively and asking clarifying questions that help to keep a focus.

The consultants carefully listen to the case presenter and ask clarifying questions to explore the case situation as well as the actions and perspectives of everyone involved. Their main task is to reconstruct and understand the case events from the case presenter’s perspective so that they can follow it up with their own ideas.

After everyone has gained a sufficient idea of the case and the case presenter’s perspective, the group continues with the next phase.

Icon zu Phase 3 von kollegialer Beratung: "Schlüsselfrage", es zeigt drei stilisierte Schlüssel übereinander


Key question

The »key question« expressed by the case presenter reflects their specific concern or desirable goal regarding the further development of the current case situation. 

The question should reflect for what the case presenter wants clarifications, ideas for action and perspectives from the counsellors: »How can I achieve, avoid, prevent …?«

At first, the moderator invites the case presenter to phrase an initial key question matching the previously described case. 

The moderator and the consultants may assist the case presenter in translating the presented work problem into a key question by suggesting several key questions, e.g. »A key question could be: ›How can I …?‹ «. Based on these suggestions, the case presenter finally develops a key question that best reflects their concern or desire.

After the case presenter derived an appropriate key question, the peer group moves on to the next phase.

Icon zu Phase 4 von kollegialer Beratung: "Methodenwahl", es zeigt drei Kästchen zum Ankreuzen, von denen das mittlere ein X-Kreuz enthält


Method choice

A consultation module determines the particular focus and character of the peer groups’ contributions in the subsequent phase 5.

Different consultation modules give different directions to the consultation and each module provides differently emphasised sources of reflection and insight for the case presenter and their key question – clarification, solution ideas or more emotional support.

The purpose of phase 4 is that the group agrees on a consultation module for phase 5 that most closely matches the interests of the case presenter.

The case presenter initially can propose a consultation module that promises the best fit to their interests. Which type of consultation could be useful? Which consultation focus could help them to clarify the issue and reveal new insight?

The moderator and the peer group may also suggest specific consultation modules which might introduce interesting and helpful impulses to the case presenter.

After the case presenter selected an adequate consultation module, the group can move on to the next phase.

The following six consultation modules are taken from a total collection of 20 consultation modules for creative and useful solutions which can be found in the handbook for peer group supervision.

Icon zu Phase 5 von kollegialer Beratung: "Beratung", es zeigt Silhouetten von fünf geometrischen Figuren, die einander überlappen



In this phase, it is mainly the consultants who are active, while the case presenter listens attentively.

The peer group is now asked to respond to the case presenter’s key question and clarification interests, and create ideas, solutions, and other contributions. They put their own perceptions, ideas, or emotions in words according to the selected consultation module.

The moderator briefly outlines the goal and the specific guidelines of the agreed consultation module. Then the moderator turns over to the peer consultants and invites them to share their ideas and thoughts for about ten to twelve minutes.

The moderator makes sure that the peer group maintains the focus and guidelines of the agreed consultation module and keeps in the time frame. In addition, they keep an eye on the case presenter and their mood and intervene if they appear to be uncomfortable.

Always keeping in mind the presented case information and the key question, the peer group then brings their various perspectives, ideas and insights together according to the focus and the guidelines of the selected consultation module.

The peer group should stay precise, concrete, and respectful. Each of the consultants speak in turn with only one main thought or idea. The peer group is encouraged to develop differing or even contradictory contributions. 

In this phase, the case presenter only listens to the contributions of each peer and takes them all in.

The participant who was appointed »secretary« takes notes on the key messages of all the contributions. During online supervision, contributions are directly written in the chat of the video meeting. This allows the case presenter to fully concentrate on the contributions.

After time is over and the case presenter received sufficient contributions on their work issue, the group moves on to the final phase.

Icon zu Phase 6 von kollegialer Beratung: "Abschluss", es zeigt eine Zielfahne wie bei Motorsportrennen



The final phase of peer group supervision consists of a conclusion by the case presenter and optional additional parts.

The case presenter draws a conclusion on their insights and inspirations worth considering, inspiring, and helpful. After this, the case presenter thanks the peer group for their help.

The secretary hands the notes from phase 5 to the case presenter.

The moderator can ask the peer group for their feedback on the moderation. Each participant may share their view on the quality of the peer group supervision process to acquire some lessons learned for future peer group supervision processes. 

And by this, the peer group supervision is finished. The peer group can now continue with another case from a different participant or meet up again in the future.

The practitioner’s book on peer group supervision

For those who want to set up a group to practise peer group supervision effectively, this book provides step-by-step instructions, proven methods and many practical examples.

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