ERIC Identifier: ED372353 Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Henderson, Patricia Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Supervision of School Counselors. ERIC Digest.
Professionally appropriate supervision is emerging as a highly effective
means of nurturing school counselors' professional development. New challenges
in schools and increased understanding of the complexity of professional
development dictate the need for increased attention to and use of effective
supervision practices. Today's children and youth need highly skilled help in
managing the complicated situations in which they live. School counselors see an
increasing number of suicidal children as well as adolescents. The upsurge in
substance abuse, gang involvement, and violence are well publicized.
Increasingly, parents turn to the schools to help them solve problems that face
them, including those posed by their children. In order to effectively help
children in their classrooms, teachers seek consultative help from counselors.
The comprehensive guidance programs (Gysbers & Henderson, 1994) being
implemented in today's schools call for school counselors to use all of their
Focused and constructive supervision is of benefit to all practitioners
whether they are novices or experienced, highly competent or insufficiently
trained. Due to reductions in caseloads, renewed commitment to elementary
counseling, and retirement of counselors who entered the field in the 1960's,
the number of new school counselors is increasing. As noted by Matthes (1992),
"we expect novice counselors to assume the same responsibilities as experienced
counselors" (p. 245). They encounter the same complex problems posed by today's
students and they face similar ethical dilemmas. Such problems require the
consultative and educative assistance of a competent counselor supervisor.
Wiggins' (1993) longitudinal study adds urgency to the need for supervision
by experienced counselors. He found that "more than 28% of the total
group...were independently rated as low in effectiveness...10 years previously
[and] were still rated in that manner--and still employed as counselors" (p.
382). Clearly, in the ten year period, supervisory interventions would have
helped some of these counselors improve the quality of their performance!
Although it is a relatively new discipline,
supervision is compatibly defined in both education and in counseling. The
purpose of supervision is the growth and enhanced effectiveness of the
practitioner (Borders, 1991; Sergiovanni, 1984). "It is characterized by a cycle
of feedback, practice, and additional feedback" (Borders, 1991, p. 253), based
on interpretation of gathered data in light of established standards.
Because of the emphasis on skill-based performance evaluations generated by
educational reform, many states (e.g., Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas) have
defined school counselors' roles and needed competencies: program management,
counseling, guidance, consulting, coordinating, student appraisal, and referral.
With these behavioral standards as a basis, supervisors and counselors operate
with the same definitions for effective performance. The value of timely
feedback has been reinforced in the career-ladder-related-teacher-appraisal
systems, setting the climate for the same practice for all categories of
CLINICAL, DEVELOPMENTAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPERVISION
competently done, supervision not only enhances the quality of counselors'
skills, but also helps hone professional judgment, "encourages greater
self-awareness, and fosters an integrated professional and personal identity as
a counselor" (Borders, 1991, p.253). Barret and Schmidt (1986) outlined a useful
schema for distinguishing between the kinds of supervision needed for/by school
counselors: clinical, developmental, and administrative. In this distinction,
the purpose of each supervision type accounts for the different procedures used
by the various supervisors available in schools.
The purpose of clinical supervision is enhancement of counselors'
professional skills and ethical functioning. The data sources which support
clinical supervision include observations of counselors applying their
professional skills and values. In the school setting, the typical opportunities
for gathering data to support clinical supervision are available (e.g., live
and/or recorded observations, case presentations, and consultations). Clinical
supervisors must be counselors who are competent in the school counselor
functions and in supervision practices.
The purpose of developmental supervision is improvement of the guidance and
counseling program and counselors' pursuit of professional development. Data
sources which support developmental supervision are recordings of goals and
activities undertaken to attain goals and measures of goal attainment, program
plans and implementation calendars, self-reports, and consumer satisfaction
surveys. Developmental supervision is best provided by competent school
counselors from the same system as the supervisee.
The purpose of administrative supervision is assurance that counselors have
worthy work habits, comply with laws and policies, relate well with other school
staff and parents, and otherwise work effectively within the school system. Data
sources supporting administrative supervision are such things as work schedules,
recordkeeping and documentation systems, and evidence of team efforts. Either
school counselor supervisors or building administrators may be providers of
PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT SYSTEMS
Particularly relevant in
the school setting is clarifying the place of supervision in the overall system
for helping counselors' improve their performance. Whether or how data used in
supervision will apply to summative evaluation needs to be spelled out.
Supervision provides opportunities for personalizing the professional
development processes. The combination of feedback from supervision and from
performance appraisal is data which counselors and their supervisors use as the
basis for professional development goals.
The cyclical nature of the supervisory process
is enhanced by the lengthy supervisor-supervisee relationships typical of
elementary and secondary school settings. The multiple opportunities for
supervision over significant lengths of time allow supervisory relationships to
be rich ones.
The primary obstacles to fully effective school counselor supervision are
caused by the insufficient number of school counselor-competent supervisors.
Where there are such supervisors, there is little or no relevant
counselor-supervisor training available and/or no specialized certification
required. Although the building principals can provide useful administrative
supervision, it is unlikely that they are current in the clinical functions of
counseling. Competent school counselors are usually available to fulfill the
developmental and clinical supervision roles, but they often lack training and
certification in supervision.
Although development of the appropriate job descriptions and provision of the
relevant training at this time are the responsibility of local school districts
(Henderson & Lampe, 1992), the Standards for Counseling Supervisors (Dye
& Borders, 1990) and the Curriculum Guide (Borders et al., 1991) provide the
guidelines needed. A pool of potential clinical and/or developmental supervisors
are available in many communities. Current school counselors can fulfill roles
as peer supervisors. An increasing number of mid-sized school systems employ
central office-based guidance supervisors. Some intermediate education agencies
and some state departments of education provide such expertise. Schools are also
contracting with community-based, Licensed Professional Counselors, or counselor
Supervision of professional practice is an
effective, but perhaps underutilized means of nurturing the professional
development of new and experienced school counselors. It is a personalized
vehicle for assuring that children, their families, and teachers benefit from
quality services. For counselor supervision to be practiced more universally in
the nation's schools, states need to require appropriate certification,
counselor education programs need to offer appropriate counseling supervisor
training, and schools and district counseling supervisors need to report their
counselor supervision practices and findings.
Barret, R. L., & Schmidt, J. J. (1986).
School counselor certification and supervision: Overlooked professional issues.
Counselor Education and Supervision, 26, 50-55.
Borders, L. D. (1991). Supervision =/= evaluation. The School Counselor, 38,
Borders, L. D., Bernard, J. M., Dye, H. A., Fong, M. L., Henderson, P., &
Nance, D. W. (1991). Curriculum guide for training counseling supervisors:
Rationale, development and implementation. Counselor Education and Supervision,
Dye, H. A., & Borders, L. D. (1990). Counseling supervisors: Standards
for preparation and practice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 27-32.
Gysbers, N. C., & Henderson, P. (1994). Developing and maintaining your
school guidance program. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Henderson, P., & Lampe, R. E. (1992). Clinical supervision of school
counselors. The School Counselor, 39, 151-157.
Matthes, W. A. (1992). Induction of counselors into the profession. The
School Counselor, 39, 245-250.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1984). Effective department leadership. Boston: Allyn
Wiggins, J. D. (1993). A 10-year follow-up of counselors rated high, average,
or low in effectiveness. The School Counselor, 40, 380-383.
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