Helm, Heather M.

Committee Member

Murdock Bishop, Jennifee

Committee Member

Rings, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Romero, Deborah


Applied Psychology and Counselor Education


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



148 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Emotional competence (EC) is an individual’s ability to skillfully embark into emotionally-laden interactions (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2008). Counselors rely on EC to build a therapeutic alliance with clients, while supervisors rely on EC to build a supervisory working alliance (SWA) with counselors-in-training. A strong SWA impacts counselor development (Ellis, 2001). Previous research suggests that SWA may be impacted by multicultural competency, supervision style, gender, and age (Bhat & Davis, 2007; Crockett & Hays, 2015; Doughty & Leddick, 2007). EC and SWA have been studied independently, but not in the context of the master’s level counselors-in-training (CITs) and doctoral education supervisor (SITs). Researchers who have investigated the role SITs found that CITs may perceive the hierarchical nature of supervision differently. CITs may be more willing to model themselves after SITs because they perceive doctoral students to be more like them as learners as compared to faculty supervisors (Scarborough, Bernard, & Morse, 2006). SITs collaborate with peers and receive feedback from faculty increasing CIT support, potentially fostering CIT client psychological growth (Fernando, 2013). This study was guided by the theory of EC, rooted in social constructivism (Saarni, 1999a). Social constructivism posits that human development is the result of social interactions and is a reflection of an individual’s cultural values and beliefs (Cottone, 2017). The theory of EC parallels the supervisory relationship in its coming together of two highly individualistic worldviews that engage in emotional and interpersonal interactions with the goal of personal and professional growth. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 18 CITs and 19 SITs, totaling 37 participants enrolled in counselor education programs recognized by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in the Rocky Mountain Region. The implications of this study support the theory of emotional competence, particularly in regards to the hierarchy of supervision, and the assumption that EC matures with experience. This study informs SITs as how to effectively proceed in supervision, and utilize the unique dynamic to positively impact CIT development. The implications of this study for practice in the field of counselor education and supervision inform the pairing of dyads to maximize the growth of emotional competence. Further, the results of this study support the importance of multicultural competency and the significant impact it can have on both the therapeutic, as well as the supervisory working alliance.

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