ERIC Identifier: ED372358
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Carroll, Michael F.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Counselling Supervision: International Perspectives. ERIC
Supervision is often treated as a "univocal" term meaning the same in
whatever context it exists. Unfortunately, such is not the case, and even in
instances where there is conceptual agreement on what it means, there are still
differences on how it is operationalized. Although there is little data to show
in which countries supervision exists and to what extent it is influential,
there are some indicators about its breadth. The International Conference on
Supervision held in London in 1991 drew participants from the United States,
Britain, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Russia, and South Africa with the
opportunity to share how supervision was viewed in different countries. In 1993,
I was privileged to spend time in four countries other than Britain (Colombia,
Denmark, the United States, and South Africa), providing a further chance to
compare and contrast supervision in these contexts. Writings on supervision have
emerged from a number of countries other than those mentioned above, including
Norway and Australia. This Digest is an attempt to summarize some of these ideas
on paper, realizing the limitation of how few and how impressionistic rather
than experimental are the conclusions.
UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN: THE TWO STRANDS OF
There seem to be two strands in the history and understanding of
supervision, one emerging from the United States and the other from Britain.
What distinguishes them is the location of counseling training. In the United
States counseling training has largely taken place in and been controlled by the
universities, whereas in Britain counseling training has existed almost
exclusively within the private domain and only in the past 10 years have
universities become involved. As a result, the United States has concentrated on
the conceptual and intellectual pursuit of supervision, while Britain has
stressed the practice, the training of supervisors, and the supervision of
The bulk of supervision writing and research comes from the United States. A
number of reviews have summarized the research, models, and components of
supervision (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992; Holloway, 1992). More recently, an
ethical code for supervisors has been published (ACES, 1993) and there are moves
to set up training standards for supervisors and training courses for beginning
and experienced supervisors. Within the writings on supervision there is some
movement away from what are called "counseling-bound" models of supervision
(where supervision is conducted along the lines of the counseling model) to a
more generic understanding which emphasizes supervision as an educational
process in its own right, not tied specifically to counseling orientations. A
good example of this integrative, educational approach can be seen in Holloway's
(in press) forthcoming book.
In Britain, on the other hand, the focus on training and practice has
resulted in a number of supervision training courses (see below), a Code of
Ethics and Practice for the Supervision of Counselors (1988), and an
accreditation scheme. The theory/research side however, is not entirely missing.
A key text written by Hawkins and Shohet (1989) contains a "Process Model of
Supervision" and the authors of two new books on supervision (Carroll, in
preparation; Wokset & Page, in preparation) hope to make contributions to
model-building in supervision. In addition, a number of research projects at
masters' and doctoral level on counseling supervision have been completed within
the past few years.
The British Association for Counseling has outlined an accreditation scheme
for supervisors which has been running for approximately five years and to date
has about 40 accredited supervisors. Applicants for these awards are required to
write their philosophy of supervision, submit a tape of a supervision session
with comments by supervisee and supervisor, and take part in a full day
evaluation where they are asked to supervise and be supervised before two
assessors and are interviewed on their theory of supervision and how congruent
it is with their practice. An interesting new development has occurred with the
arrival of the European Association of Psychotherapy (E. A. P.), which is in the
process of forming a Committee on Supervision. this Committee will consider
standards of training in supervision leading to individual accreditation.
Obviously, this venture will have wide-ranging implications for both counseling
and counseling supervision throughout Europe.
More recently a number of training courses in supervision have appeared in
Britain, some within particular counseling orientations and others viewing
themselves as integrative. The curriculum of these courses stresses experiential
learning as a key factor in supervisor training but without neglecting the
conceptual frameworks. By and large, these trainings are for experienced
counselors who are beginning to supervise or see themselves as supervisors in
the near future. Training lasts for either one or two years, resulting in a
certificate or diploma. There are approximately 10 to 12 such courses in Britain
at the moment. Every year there is a one-day British conference on supervision
organized by the British Association for Supervision Research and Practice
Unlike the United States, where supervision is a requirement for counselors
in training but not for credentialed counselors, supervision in Britain is seen
as a life-long commitment (BAC Code of Ethics and Practice for Counselors,
1990). Counselors, both those in training and those qualified, are expected to
be in supervision, although consultation is the term often used to designate
supervision with a qualified counselor.
The United States and British approaches to counseling supervision exemplify
the two strands that seem to characterize supervision in most countries: the
conceptual influencing practice as in the United States and practice moving
towards theory as in Britain.
What is not known is how well supervision "travels" and how culturally
"friendly" are either the conceptual ideas or the specific activities when
transferred from one country to another. There is some evidence for caution,
however. An attempt to introduce Rogerian counseling and supervision to Taiwan
resulted in frustration simply because the culture there expects more direct
approaches (P. P. Heppner, University of Missouri, Columbia, private
communication). In addition, countries are at various stages in the development
of supervision. In some countries counseling is still without formal
professional standards, while others have progressed to devising ethical codes
and formal training programs.
A DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR SUPERVISION PROCESS
There seem to be
a number of steps through which supervision develops, and internationally
countries may be seen at different stages:
Counseling and counseling psychology become more professionalized.
Supervision is seen as an important part of counselor training and on-going
Experienced counselors take on the roles, tasks, and functions of supervisors.
Models, theories, approaches, and research in supervision begin to be set up
and/or are imported from other countries.
Codes of ethics for supervisors are outlined.
Formal training in supervision is set up and required.
Supervision training, practice, and research are viewed as an essential
component in counseling work.
There is an increasing amount of contact between
counseling supervisors throughout the world. Workshops have been put on in
Britain by counseling supervisors from the United States. A small group of black
South African students are studying counseling and counseling supervision in
London before returning to set up counseling training within the black
communities in their home country. International conferences are being held in
places such as Hanover, Germany (September, 1994) and St. Petersburg, Russia
(International Conference on Supervision, Institute for Psychotherapy and
Counselling, September, 1995). These efforts will result in dialogue,
correspondence, and personnel exchanges allowing supervision ideas and practice
to be disseminated throughout the world. What we need at this stage is more
awareness, and indeed more study, on the cultural aspects of supervision so that
it can be integrated into different countries with culturally-sensitive
Association for Counselor Education and
Supervision (1993). Ethical guidelines for counseling supervisors. ACES
Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (1992). Fundamentals of clinical
supervision. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
British Association for Counselling (1988). Code of ethics and practice for
the supervision of counsellors. Rugby: BAC.
British Association for Counselling (1990). Code of ethics and practice for
counselors. Rugby: BAC.
Carroll, M. (in preparation). Counselling supervision: Theory, skills, and
practice. London: Cassell.
Hawkins, P., & Shohet, R. (1989). Supervision in the helping professions.
Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Holloway, E. (1992). Supervision: A way of teaching and learning. In S. D.
Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (pp. 177-214).
New York: Wiley.
Holloway, E. (in press). The strategic approach to supervision. Newbury Park,
Wosket, V., & Page, S. (in preparation). Supervising the counsellor.