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Supervision: Enhancing Supervisees Clinical Skills5 CEUs Supervision: Enhancing Supervisees Clinical Skills  

Section 11
A Reflective Model of Counseling Clinical Supervision

Question 11 | Answer Booklet | Table of Content | Supervision CEU Courses

Reflective learning Based Supervision
The model outlines the sequence of supervisee development as well as the interactive reflective learning cycle between the supervisor and supervisee. Hence, as dissonant experiences are transformed into meaningful schemas and corresponding counseling skills, the supervisee develops in concert with the progression of the on-site supervision relationship. This learning alliance is illustrated as a series of four phases representing the developmental process of counseling supervision: contextual orientation, trust establishment, conceptual development, and clinical independence. Each phase of the supervisory relationship illustrates the experience of the participants (supervisor and supervisee) and the central focus for the reflective learning experience of the supervisee. The model represents a dynamic interchange that demonstrates the concurrent development of both supervisees and the supervision relationship, which in turn leads to the clinical independence of the counselor trainees. Brief descriptions of each phase and two relevant themes that are applicable to counseling supervision and counselor education follow.

Phase 1: Contextual Orientation
Novice counselors are plagued by guilt, anxiety, perfectionism, confusion, and anger (Friedberg & Taylor, 1994), all of which challenge supervisors to work through these thoughts and feelings so that they are able to promote professional development. In this phase, supervisees experience significant levels of emotional and cognitive dissonance as they enter the counseling climate. Areas of supervisory focus may include the following:

  1. Confronting the trainee's sense of contextual urgency in orientation to the counseling relationship and over-responsibility for client welfare
  2. Addressing the disparity between academic understanding and clinical skill acquisition
  3. The ambiguity associated with the application of ethical principles to counseling relationships

Phase 2: Establishing Trust
Perceiving the counseling supervisor as supportive has been shown to be important to both the perceived level of trust (Carey et al., 1988; Frankel, 1990; Kennard et al., 1987; Wark, 1995) and the supervisee's learning and growth (Ladany & Friedlander, 1995; Worthen & McNeill, 1996). Developing and maintaining a positive learning alliance is crucial for enhancing the supervisee's willingness to reflect on the dissonant counseling experiences as well as on the conceptual and clinical demands that are essential for further counselor development.

Phase 3: Conceptual Development
As trust is experienced within the supervisory dyad, the dissonance of supervisees shifts from that associated with contextual orientation to the conceptual uncertainties associated with working in a counseling site. The importance of conceptual complexity to the process of transforming early dissonant training experiences into meaningful schemas representative of advanced counselor trainees is clearly demonstrated in previous counseling supervision research (Borders & Fong, 1989; Borders et al., 1988; Cummings et al., 1990; Lutwak & Hennessy, 1982; Martin et al., 1989; Morran, 1986). Consistent with these research conclusions, this model indicates that the supervisory relationship must address trainee conceptual dissonance before it can enhance the understanding of client issues and case planning.

Phase 4: Clinical Independence
In this final phase of counseling supervision, supervisees are encouraged, engendered, and supported as they develop their independence in clinical self-assessment and case planning and as they generate professional activities related to counseling. Furthermore, the supervisory relationship provides a context in which supervisees become more confident in professional risk-taking behaviors and strategies related to counseling relationships.

Applicability to Counseling Supervision and Education
The goal of counseling supervision is to maintain a relational context in which supervisees transform dissonant training experiences into a meaningful guide for their professional practice. This is done by supervisors who can establish and maintain a reflective supervisory dialogue with supervisees. By assuming that supervisees need a way to think through the puzzles presented by clients (Ronnestad & Skovholt, 1993), supervisors can assist counselor-trainees in developing their skills in hypothesis generating and synthetic thinking in relation to themselves and the counseling relationship. Characteristics of a supervisory reflective dialogue are presented as is a practical framework for applying the model to the counseling supervision relationship.

A Reflective Supervisory Dialogue
A primary characteristic of a reflective supervisory dialogue is a focus on thematic rather than content patterns of the supervisees' report of the counseling session. Open-ended thematic observations can prompt a shift from content review to a process-oriented supervisory conversation. Supervisors who expose counseling trainees to simultaneous tentative and opposing explanations of client/family dynamics increase the trainee's tolerance for generating and balancing multiple hypotheses. A supervisory dialogue overly focused on client content can lead to premature problem solving by the supervisor. This dynamic maintains a certain level of supervisee dependence on the supervisor's thinking process that, in turn, hampers the supervisee's confidence in his or her own conceptual abilities.
A secondary characteristic of a reflective dialogue is an emphasis on self-assessment. Central to reflective learning theory, this internal process is characterized by the trainee's ability to reflect objectively on the counseling process in relation to the needs of clients. Supervisors who encourage trainees to address the following questions promote self-assessment.

  1. What hypotheses are possible for explaining the client/family needs?
  2. Do you have the skills to address these needs effectively and ethically?
  3. If not, what do you need to do to address this gap?

Supervisors can also promote self-assessment in supervisees by encouraging (a) an identification of goals regarding client issues and the counseling process, and (b) an increased self-direction in identifying professional gaps and strategies for development of the skills necessary for addressing supervisors' own professional learning needs. Supervisors need to engender supervisees to reflect on their "visions of professional learning" with increased critical assessment, less self-judgment, and increased ownership for taking deliberate and appropriate professional risks.

A Reflective Supervisory Framework
To assist supervisors in applying the precepts of this model to their work with supervisees, a pedagogical framework is presented. This seven-step reflective dialogue has been articulated in conjunction with clarifying supervisor questions and statements.

Although describing reflective qualities such as self-monitoring (Haverkamp, 1994), self-instructional cognitions (Borders et al., 1988; Morran, 1986), and conceptual development (Cummings et al., 1990; Lutwak & Hennessey, 1982; Martin et al., 1989), counseling supervision research has provided little in the way of identifying strategies for enhancing the growth and development of counselors-in-training. This gap was addressed in this article by the presentation of a counselor supervision model that integrated reflective learning theory with the principles of counselor trainee development. It is hoped that future research will investigate facilitative interventions that are used by supervisors to better understand how reflective learning theory can be linked to dynamics of counseling supervision.
- Ward, Colin, & Reese House, Counseling Supervision: A Reflective Model, Counselor Education & Supervision, Sep 1998, Vol. 38, Issue 1.
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

Personal Reflection Exercise #4
The preceding section contained information about a reflective model of counseling supervision. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

What are the four phases representing the developmental process of counseling supervision in reflective learning-based supervision? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet

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Table of Contents
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.
Suicide Intervention Training for Counselor Trainees: A Quasi‐Experimental Study on Skill Retention
The authors used a quasi‐experimental design to explore the effect of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on 126 counselor trainees. Results showed that after 3 months, trainees had retained improvements in measured response skills and self‐reported attitudes. The authors discuss the developmental benefits of incorporating similar training into counselor education. Implications for skill measurement are also considered.
Examining Predictors of Counselor‐in‐Training Intentional Nondisclosure
This study explored factors that best predict intentional nondisclosure by counselors‐in‐training (CITs) during onsite supervision, including social judgment about one’s supervisor, the supervisory working alliance (SWA), and supervisee attachment styles. Stepwise regression in a sample of 146 CITs revealed that the SWA and supervisee attachment avoidance predicted 60% of the variance in intentional nondisclosure.
Pedagogy in Counselor Education: 2011–2015 Update
This research update includes a quantitative content analysis of 133 peer‐reviewed articles regarding teaching and learning published in 21 journals of the American Counseling Association and its divisions between January 2011 and December 2015. The authors discuss the focus areas, pedagogical foundations, and methodologies of the articles in comparison with the findings of the original 2001–2010 study.
Telling of Institutional Oppression: Voices of Minoritized Counselor Educators
The authors use the results of an intersectional critical qualitative inquiry to illustrate the encounters 6 minoritized counselor educators had with institutional forms of oppression. Their findings depict the insidious nature of institutional oppression and suggest that counselor educator experiences may be improved by peer mentorship programs and by the organizational advocacy and accountability efforts of bodies such as the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.
Counselor Educators' Experiences Preparing Preservice School Counselors: A Phenomenological Study
The authors conducted a phenomenological study to explore the experiences of 32 school counselor educators preparing preservice school counselors. Analysis of data from 3 focus groups revealed 3 themes: breadth versus depth, balancing specialties and professor partiality, and preparation versus practice. These results highlight the need for collaboration across counseling specialties at the preservice level.


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