Term Paper: Counseling Supervision

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Counseling Supervisors

The Nature and Principles of Counseling Supervision

The Purposes and Roles of Supervision

According to Michael Jacobs - in Search of Supervision: In Search of a Therapist - "supervision refers to the opportunity for the counselor or therapist to discuss her or his work with a more experienced colleague." And certainly, in the counseling profession, supervision is not the equivalent of "line management" - and indeed there is, Jacobs asserts (1)...an established norm...that counselors should continue to be supervised throughout their working life." In the codes of the British Association for Counselling, there is a "minimum of an hour and a half a month for supervision" for all counselors.

And according to Supervising Counsellors: Issues of Responsibility (Wheeler, et al., 2001), the purpose of supervision primarily is "safeguarding the client" by "promoting the development and well-being of the counselor," and by "monitoring" the counselor's work, and by "educating / training" the counselor so he or she is up to the important tasks at hand (44).

Through the fact of his ultimate responsibility to the safeguarding of the client, the role of the supervisor implies a "duty to uphold the profession," which takes in a bigger picture than merely educating and overseeing the trainee. The code in counseling supervision which is published by the British Association for Counseling (BAC) (46) emphasizes that "counseling supervision is not about 'policing'" the trainee; or in other words, the supervisor is not to be about "checking up on you."

Rather, the BAC states that the role of the trainee in this interaction with a supervisor is to develop a relationship in which the supervisor "is regarded as a trusted colleague who can help you to reflect on all dimensions of your practice, and through that process, to develop your counseling role." These roles will not emerge overnight, Wheeler writes (47): "Time must be taken to form a relationship in which the truth can be told" as to the open lines of communication which must exist for the supervisee to speak candidly about his or her clients and their sessions.

Wheeler also writes (45) that the "essence of the supervisory relationship is the process of human exchange." And it stands to logic and reason then that, as Wheeler puts it, the "quality of the relationship" that the counselor has with the supervisor is a "significant determining factor in the quality of the learning that takes place."

On the subject of learning, in Michael Carroll's book, Counseling Supervision: Theory, Skills and Practice, the author makes no bones about the fact the he believes the most important role a supervisor can play is as a teacher, an educator, insofar as his supervisee / trainee's development is concerned. On page 27, Carroll candidly admits his position "sounds like a terrible choice," but, if he had the option between a "good counselor who was a poor educator, or a poor counselor who was a good educator," he would prefer the "latter" as supervisor.

Why would he make that choice - preferring a poor counselor who happened to serve the role a good teacher / educator? His answer, also on page 27: "...education is more at the heart of supervision than is counseling." He admits that his position is not universally accepted by professionals in the field, notably authors Page and Wosket, who, he quotes, state "quite clearly that supervision is 'primarily a containing and enabling process, rather than an educational or therapeutic process'."

In Carroll's view, a good supervisor can "move between" the extremes of "totally didactic teaching at one end and totally self-directed learning at the other." That is because "good teachers" can infuse lessons with various learning formats, and they know "when to move from the teacher-pupil relationship to the mentor relationship, to the experiential learning stance, to the authoritative stance."

Introduction to Holloway's Systems Approach Model (SAS)

In the book, Clinical Supervision: A Systems Approach (Holloway, 1995), the author lays out the fact that because "supervision is among the most complex of all activities associated with the practice of psychology." Additionally, Holloway (2-3) asserts that "clinical supervision" - which takes place between two individuals, one the supervisor, one the supervisee, who meet on a regular schedule to discuss clinical and professional issues - goes deeper to the heart of the needs of the counselor than administrative supervision. In short, clinical supervision concentrates on developing the supervisee's skills, offers support for and helps frame the vision of the supervisee. Administrative supervision is about paperwork, recruiting, delegating and "acting as a change agent within the organization."

In discussing the SAS model, Holloway (4) writes that the initial supervision models - including client-centered supervision, social learning approach to supervision, and supervision in rational-emotive therapy - tended to "imitate counseling theories." And after those first counseling-bound models emerged, they were "replaced by others" that use knowledge from "related psychological subdisciplines" and also offer "frameworks for empirical inquiry." Those "others" were developmental models and social role models, which advocated that "supervisors match the structure and style of supervision to the trainee's level of development..."

Meanwhile, her own model, the Systems Approach Model, is built on seven dimensions; the design implies that each of six dimensions - which serve as "wings" from the main structure of SAS, the relationship - may be examined as an independent components. The seven are: The Institution (Contextual Factor); the Supervisor (Contextual Factor); the Functions of Supervision; the Supervision Relationship (Core Factor); the Client (Contextual Factor); the Trainee (Contextual Factor); and the Tasks of Supervision.

Tasks of Supervision: In Holloway's SAS model, the five main supervisory tasks: "counseling skill; case conceptualization; professional role; emotional awareness; and self-evaluation" (16).

And clearly, the first and foremost task on the agenda for a supervisor of counselors is to develop some strong "counseling skills" (communication, empathy, personalization, techniques). Without having the initial knowledge of how the profession should administered, the supervisor will be ineffective.

Next, Holloway takes the reader through an apparently typical interview between a trainee and a supervisor (17-21). This interview is presented in order to illustrate the kinds of supervisory tasks that are employed in the learning / mentoring environment. Initially the supervisor, while listening to the trainee offer an explanation of his or her problem with a client, is "case conceptualizing" through the reflections of the trainee. It is the supervisor's job to focus "on understanding the dynamic between the trainee and the client" (16).

In the "professional role" of the supervisor, she relates (21) to how the trainee uses "appropriate external resources" for his client; how the trainee applies "principles of professional and ethical practice"; how the trainee masters procedures, record-keeping and "appropriate inter-professional relationships"; and four, how the trainee learns to "participate in the supervisory relationship." As to Holloway's fourth task sub-head, "emotional awareness: intra-and-interpersonal," she is alluding to the trainee's "self-awareness of feelings, thoughts, and actions" which directly result from working both with the supervisor and the client.

The Functions of Supervision in Holloway's SAS model include the following: A) Monitoring / Evaluating (33-34): the supervisor oversees and evaluates the trainee and uses both "reward and coercive power" to carry out pedagogical direction. B) Instructing / Advising: the supervisor offers information, suggestions, opinions and exercises power by "instructing and advising." C) Modeling (36): in this instance, the supervisor provides expert power through mentoring, communicating, and basically acting "as a model of professional behavior and practice." D) Consulting: the supervisor seeks out views and information from the supervisee, in order to be more collaborative than adversarial. E) Supporting and Sharing (37): in this role, the supervisor gives a great deal of "empathetic attention, encouragement, and constructive confrontation."

The main body from which all the "wings" are attached in the SAS model is the Relationship of supervision. The "systematic series of actions directed to some end" - as Holloway defines the "process" of supervision - is played out within the relationship (41). In the SAS model, the relationship is the dynamic process through which the supervisor and supervisee "negotiate a personal way of using a structure of power and involvement..." that will empower the trainee, and influence not just what he or she learns, but how the learning takes place.

As to the "contextual factors" in Holloway's SAS model, they include "The Institution" (structure, clientele, ethics); "The Supervisor" (experience, role played, theoretical and cultural issues, and self-presentation); "The Client" (problems, characteristics, diagnosis); and "The Trainee" (orientation, needs and style, cultural experience).

Goals

Sometimes the simplest of goals can help the supervisor focus on maximizing the trainee's learning process. Supervising the Counsellor: A Cyclical Model - by Steve Page and Val Wosket - offers (76) several objectives for a supervisee to do in preparation for his meeting with a supervisor, and for the supervisor, as well. "Ensure the session ends on time with the last ten minutes given to review; find a way of sensitively challenging my supervisee to cut down on the amount of background information he normally gives about each client..."

Ethics and Responsibilities… [END OF PREVIEW]

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