Counseling Supervision Worthington & Tan Term Paper

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Although supervisors have an obligation to foster an atmosphere in which supervisees feel capable of being forthcoming with important information, we must also be concerned with the possibility that trainees may have predispositions toward nondisclosure, as well as the risk of liability associated with certain types of nondisclosure.

Ellis & Douce (1994) believe that there are eight supervisory themes and issues tend to recur in-group supervisor supervision (i.e., supervisor anxiety, intervention choices, group cohesion, responsibility, parallel process, power struggles, individual differences, and sexual attraction). Given the importance of supervisory issues in counselor supervision (Ellis, 1991), it is reasonable to expect that the eight issues may be important for effective supervisor supervision. In fact, our experience suggests that assessing and confronting these supervisory issues successfully is an integral part of supervisor supervision. Therefore, in the next section we discuss the eight issues and suggest intervention strategies to address them.

The eight supervisory issues seem to cluster into three categories: supervisor issues, group process issues, and counselor-supervisor process issues. Neither the three categories nor the eight issues are mutually exclusive, but tend to be interrelated (Ellis & Douce, 1994).

Ellis & Douce (1994) report that there is a thing called supervisor anxiety. Anxiety experienced by supervisor trainees in their new role as supervisor is a natural reaction (Borders & Leddick, 1987; Dodge, 1982; Hess, 1986). Supervisor anxiety becomes an issue, however, when it inhibits the learning process for the counselor or the supervisor. The supervisor's anxiety may manifest itself in multiple ways that are often characteristic of his or her typical anxiety coping strategy (Mueller & Kell, 1972). The supervisor's anxiety may also become apparent in either supervision context -- counselor supervision or supervisor supervision. For example, during a supervision session in which the new supervisor feels lost or does not know what to do with the counselor, the supervisor may act somewhat scared, quiet and passive, totally cool and competent, or so overconfident that he or she alienates the supervisee

One way to help alleviate supervisor anxiety is to provide specific guidelines for supervisory behavior (Dodge, 1982; Hess, 1986). For instance, Bernard's (1979, 1981) grid of three supervisory roles (teacher, counselor, consultant) crossed with three supervisory functions (process, conceptualization, personalization) provides a convenient set of behavioral anchors to guide supervisors in their new supervisor role.

In addition, early in the training process trainers are encouraged to discuss and validate supervisor anxiety as normal to learning any new skill or role (Borders & Leddick, 1987; Dodge, 1982). The trainer may also want to help the supervisor identify how he or she manifests anxiety in supervisory contexts and learn to manage the anxiety effectively. We have found group supervision to be well suited to these purposes (Borders, 1991; Holloway & Johnston, 1985).

Choice of intervention. As the supervisors advance developmentally in supervisory competence, they tend to grow in their ability to conceptualize counselors individually and in terms of the supervisee's developmental level.This growth seems to be a direct outcome of the supervisors' becoming proficient with the supervision literature and consequently becoming more adept in the ability to focus on the counselor's training needs (Borders, 1989). The supervisor can then select an intervention that will maximize growth for the counselor by providing the proper balance of challenge and support (Blocher, 1983). The constant assessment of what the counselor needs and the act of choosing and tailoring supervisory interventions to the individual counselor and the natural unevenness of his or her growth seem to be essential supervisory skills (Borders, 1989).Initial problems experienced by novice supervisors in choosing the appropriate supervisory intervention seem to encompass at least two intertwined issues: the acquisition and utilization of specific supervisory knowledge and skills (Borders et al., 1991; Borders & Leddick, 1987) and the supervisor's developmental level. Supervisors may over identify with their supervisees and supervise, as they would have liked to have been supervised when they were novice counselors. That is, supervisors may assume that the counselor's experiences with their academic program and with their counseling practicum are the same as their own experiences.

Supervisors may also over identify with their own current counseling skill level (e.g., Stoltenberg, 1981). For example, if confrontation on personal reactions and feelings about the client is growth producing for the supervisor as counselor, then he or she may supervise with the same emphasis ("what's working for me now should work for the counselor"). Both of these over identifications deny the individuality of the counselor and ignore the counselor's developmental level (Stoltenberg, 1981).


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