ERIC Identifier: ED372356
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Henderson, Patricia
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Administrative Skills in Counseling Supervision. ERIC Digest.
The administrator of a supervision program is the person ultimately
responsible for the quality of supervision provided and the effectiveness of
supervisory staff. Conceptually, the supervision "program" includes not only the
staff of supervisors, but also the activities they do, outcomes they strive to
help their supervisees achieve, materials and resources they use, and means by
which the activities, outcomes, and staff performance are evaluated.
Administrators of supervision programs include school system, central
office-based guidance directors who administer the supervision activities of
campus-based counseling department heads; counselor-owners of private practices
with multiple counselor supervisors; heads of counselor education departments
with multiple faculty members supervising intern and practicum students; and
counselor educators responsible for field-site practicum and internship
supervisors of their students.
Administrators provide leadership and
direction to supervision programs by developing and upholding the program
mission and the goals of supervision. To ensure effective implementation of the
program (and the related counseling activities), administrators must know and be
able to articulate for the staff and others the purpose, value, and goals of
supervision, including its contribution to the quality of the counseling
program. Essential here are knowledge of and commitment to the professional
standards of counseling performance, ethics (American Counseling Association,
1988), and supervision (Dye & Borders, 1990), as well as the relevant legal
standards. Administrators must be able to articulate how supervision relates to
performance evaluation and to other professional development activities. They
need to be able to facilitate the establishment of program priorities and to
assist counselors and/or supervisors in establishing relevant objectives which
not only will maintain the program, but also cause its improvement.
Administrators need to help supervisors be clear about the priority of
supervision in relation to other aspects of their jobs. Supervisors of school or
agency counseling departments with multiple counselors often have counseling
caseloads in addition to supervision responsibilities. Counselor educators often
carry teaching or advisement responsibilities in addition to supervising
practicum and internship students.
Administrators not only are accountable for the provision of high quality
supervision, they also are accountable for resultant improvement in the
performance of supervisees/counselors, and ultimately for assuring effective
treatment for clients. Based on their evaluations of supervisors' competence,
administrators have a responsibility to match supervisors and counselors for
optimum professional development, and for establishing efficient systems for
matching counselors and clients for optimum personal development. They also must
be able to develop, with supervisors, the system for monitoring client progress.
Establishing systems that are not burdensome to the staff is often a challenge
to the administrator. Writing skills are needed for documentation and for
In a "business manager" role, the administrator needs skills in acquiring and
allocating resources needed for effective and efficient program implementation.
Specifically, administrators pursue sufficient budgets, adequate materials,
appropriate facilities, and equipment. Managing the supervision program entails
handling logistics, such as scheduling to match clients and counselors,
counselors and supervisors, making good use of facilities and equipment, and
efficiently using time. Administrative skill requisites include being able to
develop plans for supervision activities on a yearly, a semester, or perhaps a
Administrators must have the political and communication skills necessary to
establish or collaborate with those who establish the policies that support the
program and enhance the supervision efforts. They also are responsible for
setting workable procedures and rules. They must know how to conduct effective
and efficient meetings. Administrators help others in and out of the department
to know the value of and best practices within counseling supervision.
Administrators of supervision should
have the knowledge and skills needed to provide leadership to the supervision
program staff, as well as the counseling program staff members. "Personnel" within the responsibility of the supervision administrator may include
supervisors, supervisees, support staff, and clients. Ideally, supervision
administrators are or have been exemplary supervisors (and counselors) and are
well-grounded in the knowledge, skills, and experiences of effective counseling
supervision. They have developed their own models of supervision and know its
steps, procedures, and a wide repertoire of techniques. It is beneficial if
administrators model these and other basic skills to better assure such skills
in the supervisors and counselors within their responsibility.
Supervisors and their administrators are involved in relationships with a
myriad of dynamics. Prerequisite to skilled administration is having the
interpersonal skills necessary to counsel, supervise, and administer such a
relationship-based program. Relationships develop and interactions occur between
clients and counselors, between counselors and supervisors, and between
supervisors and their administrator. These relationships should be characterized
by mutual respect, two-way interactions, and a collaborative spirit.
Administrators establish the climates within which their programs operate.
Their values are reflected in the program and by the supervisory staff. If they
value ethical practice, the worth and dignity of each individual, such are the
values of the department, agency, or business. If their personal interactions
are characterized by trust and respect, those become hallmarks of the
interpersonal climate of the staff. A collaborative leadership style sets a
different climate than an authoritarian one.
Usually, program administrators are protectors of the rights of the
supervisors, supervisees, other staff members, and clients. They need skills to
intervene if needed. Dissatisfied clients, having first discussed their issues
with their counselors and then the supervisors, may bring their appeals to
administrators. Thus, administrators must listen well and evaluate cases and
Supervision administrators typically have traditional personnel
responsibilities for the supervisors. They need skills in recruitment, hiring,
placement, orientation, and induction of new supervisors. They need to be able
to write and to clarify job descriptions of the supervisors. Given the dearth of
supervisor training, today's supervision administrator needs to be able to train
new supervisors as well as provide inservice training for those with experience
(Borders et al., 1991; Henderson & Lampe, 1992). They assist supervisors in
choosing appropriate supervision methodology when they are faced with
problematic supervisees (e.g., those in burn-out, stress, conflict, or who are
incompetent). As with the other supervision skills outlined in the Standards
(Dye & Borders, 1990), administrators must be able to match their own
administrative behaviors to the needs of their "administratees."
Supervision administrators both supervise and evaluate supervisor performance
and suggest goals for supervisors' professional development. As is often true
with supervisors and supervisees, these responsibilities may appear to the
supervisor ("administratee") to overlap or even be in conflict. Administrators
need to be clear as to which role they are fulfilling in any given situation.
They need to be able to distinguish between formative supervision and summative
performance evaluation. They need to be able to evaluate fairly and to provide
Finally, supervision administrators need to pursue their own meaningful
professional development. Administrators are professional models to their staff
members, and should exemplify excellence in counseling and supervisory as well
as administrative professional knowledge and skills.
As both counseling and counseling supervision are
developing disciplines, so too is the administration of counseling supervision.
Appropriate training, based on the ACES-developed Curriculum Guide (Borders et
al., 1991), needs to be provided for counseling supervisors and extended for
administrators of counseling supervision programs. When training is accessible,
appropriate certification and licensing requirements need to be established.
Perhaps before all of that can happen, more discussion of the topic needs to
occur in the profession.
American Counseling Association. (1988). Ethical
standards. Alexandria, VA: Author.
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.
Henderson, P., & Lampe, R. E. (1992). Clinical supervision of school
counselors. The School Counselor, 39(3), 151-157.