Likewise, engaging in too much control over a Stage III supervisee could lead to quite a bit of tension in the supervisor/supervisee relationship and result in negative transference to clients in counseling sessions. Nonetheless, this notion that counseling supervisees develop in relatively predictable stages and that an effective supervisor can best help them progress by approaching them at the level of supervision that corresponds to their own development is very helpful in performing efficient and rewarding supervision for counseling trainees.
Empirical research has validated the approach of the integrated developmental models to some extent. In order to determine the supervisee's developmental McNeill, Stoltenberg, and Romans (1992) developed the Supervisee Levels Questionnaire -- Revised (SLQ -- R). Lovell (1999) found that the SLQ -- R results from trainees indicated that the level of education and prior supervised experience was related to the level of the supervisee opposed to such concepts as cognitive complexity. Thus, consistent with developmental theory the developmental level of supervisee sophistication was dependent on the amount formal training and supervision received. Anderson and Bang (2004) performed an extensive review of the literature regarding the training of substance abuse counselors and found that the Integrated Developmental Model of Supervision fit eight stringent criteria needed to effectively train substance abuse counselors. Paladino, Minton, and Kern (2011) found that Master -- level counseling students made greater gains when trained using the Integrated Developmental Model of Supervision compared to traditional models of training. Thus, an integrated developmental model of supervision appears to have a solid empirical basis for its use and can be adjusted to fit the needs of counseling supervisees/trainees.
Nonetheless, the model does have some potential weaknesses that have been identified. The first weakness is that the model focuses primarily on the development of counseling graduate students (Haynes et al., 2003). This makes the model difficult to apply to counseling students that need supervision in post graduate programs. For instance, a post doctoral level counselor getting training on a specific rotation could hardly be described as a Stage I entry-level counselor. Haynes et al. (2003) also report that the model presents limited methods of supervision that are applicable at over all supervisee levels, but especially at the more advanced levels such as Stage III.
This writer disagrees with these particular assumptions. The notion of an integrated developmental model assumes that there is a progression in a counseling student's development that can be used as a guideline to choosing appropriate supervision and supervisory techniques. The key here is the notion of a guideline to supervision and not the notion of conveyor belt or assembly line supervision techniques. For those budding counselors who are at Stage I and in the early parts of Stage II supervisees will need to offer more structure, more support, more direction, and more direct instruction. As trainees develop they will need less structure, less direction, more focus on theory and countertransference issues, and more feedback or suggestions as to what things to try. The supervisor can begin to allow the trainee to make suggestions and describe or predict the course of the counseling sessions once the supervisee has demonstrated growing levels of competence. Again, Haynes et al. (2003) described the supervision as a type of art form and this is where that particular aspect of supervision comes in. Supervisors are allowed some discretion in what appropriate measures they use with particular trainees. Moreover, there will be a number of differences that are based on cultural or interpersonal issues that affect the direct supervision of any particular counseling trainee. It is only a developmental model that seeks to integrate many different sources of theoretical models of supervision and counselor development that can allow for the flexibility needed to deal with these issues. These models can offer much more flexibility that can help guide the supervisor to help the counseling trainee develop to their maximum potential. Integrated developmental theories offer the potential for modification based on these issues and the modified theory initially developed by Skovholt and Ronnestad (1993) and then refined in 2003 is especially useful.
Using a longitudinal qualitative approach Skovholt and Ronnestad (1992) followed 100 therapists and counselors at different levels of experience from first-year graduate students to doctoral level counselors/therapists in order to improve on existing models of supervision. They were able to interview 60 of them in a pre and post intervention (counseling supervision) design. This led to an interesting integrated developmental model which began as an eight stage model but eventually ended up being composed of six developmental phases (Ronnestad & Skovholt, 2003). The use of the term phase in this model was believed to be more indicative of the gradual changes that counselors experience when compared to the more restrictive description "stage." Nonetheless the first three phases in this model are very similar to the three stages mentioned earlier (the Lay Helper; the Beginning Student; the Advanced Student). The last three phases address some of the criticisms of the Integrated Developmental Model discussed by Haynes et al. (2003). These phases include the Novice Professional, Experienced Professional, and Senior Professional phases.
The phases described by Ronnestad and Stovholt (2003) have excellent face validity in describing exactly where the trainee stands in their level of experience. Probably the greatest contribution of this particular theoretical orientation is that Ronnestad and Stovholt (2003) were able to identify 14 themes of development that occurs in counselors over these particular six phases. These 14 themes indicate that the development of a counselor (or therapist) is a very complex process that involves quite a bit of reflection on the part of the developing counselor. These themes can be very important in helping a supervisor to understand how counseling students develop and view themselves over the course of their development. For instance, one theme had to do with the development and integration of the counselor's professional and personal self. As counselors develop they also begin a process of integrating their own self-image into a more holistic viewpoint that resembles the Rogerian notion of self -- congruence.
A different but related theme looks at how the initially the counseling trainees view themselves as a sort of heroic figure out to help or save clients to a later conceptualization of the client as the heroic figure who helps themselves realign their lives. Other themes include such notions as how newer trainees will often view supervisors or advanced students with very strong emotional reactions that can often take on extremes such as admiration or disgust. A supervisor should be well aware of this type of reaction in less experienced trainees. This can interact with the level of anxiety that new trainees experience over their work. Over time this anxiety is mastered (in most of them anyway). Thus, the two themes can interact as a new counseling trainee with high levels of anxiety regarding their performance and their need to impress supervisors will lead them to form a dichotomous viewpoint of supervisors and senior peers based on their own insecurities (good and bad; competent and incompetent, etc.).
In addition, this particular model views professional development is a lifelong process that is long, slow, and can have quite erratic with shifts back and forth between phases and between themes. Such a viewpoint allows quite a bit of flexibility in understanding the specific differences in the development of counseling trainees and also gives the supervisor the opportunity to be very flexible in their approach with individual students.
A very important theme for the supervisor to remember is that supervision is not the same thing as doing therapy or counseling with the trainee. The relationship between a supervisor and a counseling trainee is a professional relationship strictly designed to assist the trainee to develop as a counselor. Supervisors should encourage quite a bit of study and reflection in the counseling trainees as opposed to trying to give them directions as if they are baking a cake. In the earlier phases of development supervisors will offer instructional didactics and readings to assist the trainees in the basics; however, in order to get the trainees to develop to their full potential they should also encourage the trainees to reflect and think about how the material applies within the confines of the counseling sessions.
Supervisors can also use these principles to reflect on their own performance in supervision and to better themselves as mentors and supervisors to budding counselors by applying the stages and themes to themselves and their relationship with the trainees. While there certainly is a well-defined power structure between supervisor and supervisees (especially in the beginning stages of training development) is important for the supervisor to allow budding counselors to develop by giving them chances to be more autonomous as they progress. Perhaps one of the most constructive strategies for the supervisor to take is to discuss the various aspects of their supervision with other supervisors (and certainly with more experienced supervisors). This allows the supervisor to learn…