Helm, Heather M.
Hanna, Fred J.
Softas-Nall, Basilia C.
Applied Psychology & Counselor Education
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Supervision in applied counseling settings is highly important to counselor education and supervision, the development of interns and pre-licensed counselors, and effective service delivery to counseling clients. A constructivist grounded theory methodology was utilized to explore the social processes of supervision in settings including community agencies and organizations where service delivery to clients is a high priority. Direct interviews, document collection, and observations were conducted with 11 participant supervisors. Seventeen empirically derived categories emerged across the supervisory relational contexts of the community, stakeholders, organization, administration, counselors, and clients. Key findings of this study included the interwoven strategies of administrative and clinical supervision. Participants' supervision strategies focused on counselor supervision and client outcomes as well as the larger organization and community. Stakeholder involvement and the complexity of client issues appeared influential on supervision strategies. Participants described their experiences of divides of professional culture, devaluation of counseling, lack of support, and the demand stressors of their organization. Participants adapted supervision strategies to protect and fortify counselors through wellness and specialized skills adapted to client populations. Participants reacted and responded to the demands of service delivery that funneled toward them and resulted in demand stress. As a result, participants varied strategies to adapt, cope, and respond. Counselor supervision involved multiple strategies focused on counselor development, the supervisor-supervisee alliance and relationship, and influencing client change in parallel with the supervision relationship. Supervisors utilized specific guides to navigate supervision in the organizational context, e.g., their preferred theories of counseling, assessing the needs of others across multiple contexts, and their understanding of supervision from their prior experiences. Preparation and training appeared influential on supervisor development and identity. A grounded theory of supervision in applied counseling settings emerged from the data. The results of this study have implications for counselor educators and supervisors, applied setting supervisors and counselors, supervision researchers, regulating bodies, and the field of supervision. Implications include a resultant grounded theory of supervision in applied counseling settings. This model contributed to a greater understanding of supervision and the applicability of current supervision models in the applied counseling setting. This study produced a large set of potential variables for use in future supervision research. Implications for the wellness and development of supervisors as well as their needs for support and training are also described.
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