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Supervision... Enhancing Supervises Clinical Services (Abbreviated)
3 CEUs Supervision... Enhancing Supervises Clinical Services (Abbreviated)

Section 8
Solution-focused Strategies for Clinical Supervision

CEUs Question 8 | CEUs Test | Table of Contents | Supervision CEU Courses
 Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

Solution-Focused Clinical Supervision
Juhnke (1996) and Thomas (1996) borrowed from the literature on solution-focused therapy and suggested that the basic assumptions of this approach would also serve a supervisor well in encouraging real growth within counselors. In particular, Thomas proposed certain ideals for a solution-focused supervision approach. First, the supervisor refrains from being didactic. Instead, he or she provides the opportunity for the supervisee to draw on inner resources to break binds in order to begin acting independently and make changes. Second, resistance is viewed as a "stuckness" that is produced by the nature of the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee. Instead of trying to overcome the supervisee's resistance to suggestions or feedback, the supervisor promotes a collaborative atmosphere so that the supervisee is open to new options and directions. Third, focusing on the positive changes in the supervisee's behavior, rather than on their faults or problems, makes the supervisee's success more likely. Fourth, in the interest of using supervision time effectively, the supervisor takes advantage of the "snowball" or "ripple" effect, in which a small change is what makes it possible for solution-focused therapy to be brief. Change is always happening, and rapid change is not at all unusual. Fifth, instead of attempting radical and dramatic personality changes, the supervisor deals with what is possible. Supervision is not therapy and focuses on success-oriented behaviors, instead of problem-saturated talk, painful personal insights, and arduous self-discovery. Finally, because the solution-focused approach is based in a constructivist epistemology, the supervisor accepts that there is no single correct way to view a situation. Getting counselors to "see it our way" assumes that there is only one best way.

Hypothetical Examples of Solution-Focused Supervision
What follows is a brief set of examples of how the supervisor might maintain a solution-focused approach in a session with the supervisee. The quoted remarks are merely hypothetical examples of what the supervisor might say at any stage of the supervision. Because beginnings can set the tone for an entire session, the supervisor may want to begin the session by asking, "I'm wondering what about your work with your client would be most productive for us to focus on today?" Even though this way of beginning is ambiguous, the supervisees might interpret the remark as seeking to know where they have experienced problems, so the supervisor might attempt to head their session in another direction by inquiring, "What aspect of your counseling have you noticed getting better since we last met?" The simple request, "Tell me about the best thing you did with your client this week," is also an excellent way to steer toward an exploration of supervisee competencies and achievements.

Inevitably, the supervisee will focus on problems he or she is experiencing with the client. Rather than listening to the counselor's concern in detail and requesting even more problem-saturated talk, the supervisor acknowledges the problem and asks, "As you begin to get better at dealing with this situation, how will you know that you have become good enough at it so you can take it on your own?" The supervisor then encourages the supervisee to explore these solutions in greater detail and to envision them more vividly by asking, "What will you be doing differently?" or "When you get to the point at which you won't need to deal with this issue in supervision anymore, how will you know?"

If the counselor-in-training persists in framing his or her own behavior as a problem, the use of a scale can set expectations of success. The supervisor may say, "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being that the problem is at its absolute worst, and 10 being that the problem is completely solved, where would you say you are today?" After the counselor offers an estimate, the supervisor replies, "When you are on your way to a (the next highest number to the one named), how will you know?" The supervisor may follow this invitation by explicitly asking, "What, in particular, will be different about the way you handle that situation?" or "How will you have changed as a counselor?" By answering these questions, instead of exploring more minutia and facets of the problem, the supervisee is beginning to envision more clearly the strategies that may succeed in achieving a solution.

Sometimes, the counselor-in-training will be able to imagine a change but expresses discouragement that he or she would ever be able to achieve it. The supervisor has a number of possible responses to the counselor's doubts about accomplishing such a seemingly overwhelming goal. These responses are all based on the assumption that nothing is perfect--including failures! Even experiences that seem to be complete failures have small victories that have been overlooked. Therefore, there are always exceptions to these problems, circumstances that hold promise of alleviating these problems, or times, however brief and transient, when a person has a greater sense of confidence in achieving success. For example, the supervisor might invite the supervisee to focus on one of these exceptions by requesting, "Tell me about a time when a small piece of the change was already happening." Another possibility is to suggest focusing on a particular time of greater personal confidence, "When was there a time when you felt you were going to be able to solve this problem?"

Any time during supervision that the counselor-in-training describes successes, identifies improvements in effectiveness, or discovers an exception to a problem, the supervisor leans in, looks curious, and excitedly asks the supervisee to say more. The idea of solution-focused supervision is to facilitate concrete images of success and then ask, "How did you get yourself to do that?"
- Presbury, Jack, Echterling, Lennis, & Edson McKee, Supervision for inner vision: Solution-focused strategies, Counselor Education & Supervision, Dec 1999, Vol. 39, Issue 2.

Clinical Supervision and Professional Development
of the Substance Abuse Counselor

- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Clinical Supervision and Professional Development of the Substance Abuse Counselor. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 52. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14­4435. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009.
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

Personal Reflection Exercise #2
The preceding section contained information about solution-focused strategies in supervision. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 8
According to Presbury, how is the solution-focused approach based in a constructivist epistemology? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Test

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Table of Contents

Counselor Education and Supervision: 2018 Annual Review
The authors reviewed 114 articles regarding counselor education and supervision published in professional counseling journals during 2018. The articles represented a range of methodologies, providing insight into current supervision, teaching and training, stakeholder experiences, and professional issues. Implications include a need for research regarding online teaching and learning as well as exploring supervision’s influence on counseling skill and effectiveness.
Medicare Reimbursement for Counselors: Counseling Professionals’ Advocacy Beliefs and Behavior
The authors analyzed data from 5,528 American Counseling Association members to examine advocacy beliefs and behavior regarding Medicare reimbursement and advocacy for counselors. Nearly half (49.3%) of the respondents had participated in one or more forms of Medicare reimbursement advocacy. Advocacy participation differed significantly by professional status.
Publication Patterns of Counselor Educators at Comprehensive Universities
The authors examined the publication patterns of 821 counselor educators across 174 comprehensive universities for the years 2008 through 2017. Nearly half of the sample did not have any journal article publications, and the median number of publications was 1. Several institutional variables were useful for predicting article publication counts.
School Counselor Consultation Preparation: A National Study
The authors examined trends in school counselor consultation preparation using data collected from 238 program websites, 73 program survey responses, and 57 syllabi. The results indicated an emphasis on consultation content related to theories, stakeholders, and topics, rather than experiential practice. The findings suggest a need to incorporate and assess more application‐specific consultation activities and assignments.
The Impact of Teaching Preparation Practices on Self‐Efficacy Toward Teaching
Coursework in teaching, fieldwork, and supervised teaching experiences were examined as predictors of counselor education doctoral students’ (N = 149) self‐efficacy toward teaching. Results revealed that all 3 variables related significantly to self‐efficacy toward teaching. Results suggested that students’ satisfaction with supervision of teaching was particularly important in strengthening self‐efficacy.

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