ERIC Identifier: ED372340
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Leddick, George R.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Models of Clinical Supervision. ERIC Digest.
Clinical supervision is the construction of individualized learning plans for
supervisees working with clients. The systematic manner in which supervision is
applied is called a "model." Both the Standards for Supervision (1990) and the
Curriculum Guide for Counseling Supervision (Borders et al., 1991) identify
knowledge of models as fundamental to ethical practice.
Supervision routines, beliefs, and practices began emerging as soon as
therapists wished to train others (Leddick & Bernard, 1980). The focus of
early training, however, was on the efficacy of the particular theory
(e.g.behavioral, psychodynamic, or client-centered therapy). Supervision norms
were typically conveyed indirectly during the rituals of an apprenticeship. As
supervision became more purposeful, three types of models emerged. These were:
(1) developmental models, (2) integrated models, and (3) orientation-specific
Underlying developmental models of
supervision is the notion that we each are continuously growing, in fits and
starts, in growth spurts and patterns. In combining our experience and
hereditary predispositions we develop strengths and growth areas. The object is
to maximize and identify growth needed for the future. Thus, it is typical to be
continuously identifying new areas of growth in a life-long learning process.
Worthington (1987) reviewed developmental supervision models and noted patterns.
Studies revealed the behavior of supervisors changed as supervisees gained
experience, and the supervisory relationship also changed. There appeared to be
a scientific basis for developmental trends and patterns in supervision.
Stoltenberg and Delworth (1987) described a developmental model with three
levels of supervisees: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Within each level
the authors noted a trend to begin in a rigid, shallow, imitative way and move
toward more competence, self-assurance, and self-reliance for each level.
Particular attention is paid to (1) self-and-other awareness, (2) motivation,
and (3) autonomy. For example, typical development in beginning supervisees
would find them relatively dependent on the supervisor to diagnose clients and
establish plans for therapy. Intermediate supervisees would depend on
supervisors for an understanding of difficult clients, but would chafe at
suggestions about others. Resistance, avoidance, or conflict is typical of this
stage, because supervisee self-concept is easily threatened. Advanced
supervisees function independently, seek consultation when appropriate, and feel
responsible for their correct and incorrect decisions.
Once you understand that these levels each include three processes
(awareness, motivation, autonomy), Stoltenberg and Delworth (1987) then
highlight content of eight growth areas for each supervisee. The eight areas
are: intervention, skills competence, assessment techniques, interpersonal
assessment, client conceptualization, individual differences, theoretical
orientation, treatment goals and plans, and professional ethics. Helping
supervisees identify their own strengths and growth areas enables them to be
responsible for their life-long development as both therapists and supervisors.
Because many therapists view themselves
as "eclectic," integrating several theories into a consistent practice, some
models of supervision were designed to be employed with multiple therapeutic
orientations. Bernard's (Bernard & Goodyear,1992) Discrimination Model
purports to be "a-theoretical." It combines an attention to three supervisory
roles with three areas of focus. Supervisors might take on a role of "teacher"
when they directly lecture, instruct, and inform the supervisee. Supervisors may
act as counselors when they assist supervisees in noticing their own "blind
spots" or the manner in which they are unconsciously "hooked" by a client's
issue. When supervisors relate as colleagues during co-therapy they might act in
a "consultant" role. Each of the three roles is task-specific for the purpose of
identifying issues in supervision. Supervisors must be sensitive toward an
unethical reliance on dual relationships. For example, the purpose of adopting a
"counselor" role in supervision is the identification of unresolved issues
clouding a therapeutic relationship. If these issues require ongoing counseling,
supervisees should pursue that work with their own therapists.
The Discrimination Model also highlights three areas of focus for skill
building: process, conceptualization, and personalization. "Process" issues
examine how communication is conveyed. For example, is the supervisee reflecting
the client's emotion, did the supervisee reframe the situation, could the use of
paradox help the client be less resistant? Conceptualization issues include how
well supervisees can explain their application of a specific theory to a
particular case--how well they see the big picture--as well as what reasons
supervisees may have for what to do next. Personalization issues pertain to
counselors' use of their persons in therapy, in order that all involved are
nondefensively present in the relationship. For example, my usual body language
might be intimidating to some clients, or you might not notice your client is
physically attracted to you.
The Discrimination Model is primarily a training model. It assumes each of us
now have habits of attending to some roles and issues mentioned above. When you
identify your customary practice, you can then remind yourself of the other two
categories. In this way, you choose interventions geared to the needs of the
supervisee instead of your own preferences and learning style.
Counselors who adopt a
particular brand of therapy (e.g. Adlerian, solution-focused, behavioral, etc.)
oftentimes believe that the best "supervision" is analysis of practice for true
adherence to the therapy. The situation is analogous to the sports enthusiast
who believes the best future coach would be a person who excelled in the same
sport at the high school, college, and professional levels. Ekstein and
Wallerstein (cited in Leddick & Bernard, 1980) described psychoanalytic
supervision as occurring in stages. During the opening stages the supervisee and
supervisor eye each other for signs of expertise and weakness. This leads to
each person attributing a degree of influence or authority to the other. The
mid-stage is characterized by conflict, defensiveness, avoiding, or attacking.
Resolution leads to a "working" stage for supervision. The last stage is
characterized by a more silent supervisor encouraging supervisees in their
tendency toward independence.
Behavioral supervision views client problems as learning problems; therefore
it requires two skills: 1) identification of the problem, and (2) selection of
the appropriate learning technique (Leddick & Bernard, 1980). Supervisees
can participate as co-therapists to maximize modeling and increase the proximity
of reinforcement. Supervisees also can engage in behavioral rehearsal prior to
working with clients.
Carl Rogers (cited in Leddick & Bernard, 1980) outlined a program of
graduated experiences for supervision in client-centered therapy. Group therapy
and a practicum were the core of these experiences. The most important aspect of
supervision was modeling of the necessary and sufficient conditions of empathy,
genuineness, and unconditional positive regard.
Systemic therapists (McDaniel, Weber, & McKeever, 1983) argue that
supervision should be therapy-based and theoretically consistent. Therefore, if
counseling is structural, supervision should provide clear boundaries between
supervisor and therapist. Strategic supervisors could first manipulate
supervisees to change their behavior, then once behavior is altered, initiate
discussions aimed at supervisee insight.
Bernard and Goodyear (1992) summarized advantages and disadvantages of
psychotherapy-based supervision models. When the supervisee and supervisor share
the same orientation, modeling is maximized as the supervisor teaches--and
theory is more integrated into training. When orientations clash, conflict or
parallel process issues may predominate.
Are the major models of supervision mutually
exclusive, or do they share common ground? Models attend systematically to: a
safe supervisory relationship, task-directed structure, methods addressing a
variety of learning styles, multiple supervisory roles, and communication skills
enhancing listening, analyzing, and elaboration. As with any model, your own
personal model of supervision will continue to grow, change, and transform as
you gain experience and insight.
Association for Counselor Education and
Supervision (1990). Standards for counseling supervisors. Journal of Counseling
and Development, 69, 30-32.
Bernard, J. M., Goodyear, R. K. (1992). Fundamentals of clinical supervision.
Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Borders, L. D., Bernard, J. M., Dye, H. A., Fong, M. L., Henderson, P., &
Nance, D. W. (1991). Curriculum guide for training counselor supervisors:
Rationale, development, and implementation. Counselor Education and Supervision,
Goodyear, R. K. (1982). Psychotherapy supervision by major theorists
[videotape series]. Manhattan, KS: Instructional Media Center
Leddick, G. R. & Bernard, J. M. (1980). The history of supervision: A
critical review. Counselor Education and Supervision, 27, 186-196.
McDaniel, S., Weber, T. , & McKeever, J. (1983). Multiple theoretical
approaches to supervision: Choices in family therapy training. Family Process,
Stoltenberg, C. D., & Delworth, U. (1987) Supervising counselors and
therapists. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Worthington, E. L. (1987). Changes in supervision as counselors and
supervisors gain experience: A review. Professional Psychology, 18, 189-208.