Cross Cultural Perspectives in Supervision

Article excerpt

With the increasing number of culturally diverse students enrolled in counselor training programs (Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1998; Locke & Kiselica, 1999), the cross-cultural dynamics of counseling supervision has become a pressing issue to be addressed by training programs and the supervision literature. According to Fong (1994), the supervisor's role is to promote supervisee growth by challenging cultural assumptions, encouraging emotional expression, and validating conflict of attitudes and values. Therefore, the supervisor whose behavior has been shaped by membership in the dominant culture needs to have an understanding of the cultural identity of the supervisee and must possess skills and knowledge to work competently with persons from diverse cultural backgrounds or risk limiting the growth of the supervisee.

The multicultural perspective will become even more essential as the profession moves into the twenty-first century. It is projected that by the year 2010, 12 of the nations most populous states, containing about half of the country's young people, will have significant multicultural populations (Hodgkinson, 1992). Moreover, estimates indicate that by the year 2020, 55% of the population will belong to a culturally diverse group (Sue & Sue, 1999). Thus, the supervision triad of client, counselor, and supervisor will most likely contain persons of differing racial-ethnic backgrounds who are confronting problems and concerns in a diverse social environment.

Educators have reproached counselor training programs for providing inadequate preparation for culturally diverse students aspiring to serve their communities (Locke, 1990; Sue & Sue, 1999; Vontress, 1996). The criticisms have centered around the curriculum and practicum experience of traditional training programs. Critics of the curriculum of graduate counselor education training programs have charged that such programs have not addressed the unique issues involved in working with culturally diverse populations (Locke, 1990; Locke & Kiselica, 1999; Pack-Brown, 1999).

Bernard and Goodyear (1997) defined counseling supervision as "an intervention provided by a senior member of a profession to a junior member or members of that same profession" (p. 6). This evaluative relationship extends over time and has the purpose of overseeing the quality of professional services offered to clients while augmenting the professional development of the junior member or members, and serving as a gatekeeper for those who are entering the profession. Moreover, supervision may be focused on developing a counselor's therapeutic skills, professional behaviors, attitudes, or self-awareness about how one's personal traits may affect counseling performance.

Supervision usually involves role plays, skill practices, modeling, or audio and videotape reviews. It may be directive, collaborative, confrontive, supportive, structured or open-ended, depending on the learning needs, style, and personality of the counseling supervisor. It is the construction of individualized learning plans for supervisees working with clients (Leddick, 1994). It is difficult work for the supervisor and supervisee.

Issues related to the practicum experience have included inadequate discussion of supervisee's feelings and attitudes regarding cultural differences, lack of experience with culturally diverse supervisees, and lack of discussion of expectations of supervision in the counseling practicum (Cook, 1994; Peterson, 1991; Priest, 1994). Moreover, the attitudes presented by counselors and supervisors and the psychological climate largely created by them makes the difference and induces change in supervisees (Rogers, 1962).

Because supervision is intended to assist supervisees in integrating their personal and professional identities, if ethnicity is ignored, supervisees may not develop fully integrated professional identities (Cook, 1994). …