Communication between College Counselors and Academic Faculty When Supervising Graduate Student Trainees

By Sharkin, Bruce S.; Coulter, Lisa P. | Journal of College Counseling, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Communication between College Counselors and Academic Faculty When Supervising Graduate Student Trainees


Sharkin, Bruce S., Coulter, Lisa P., Journal of College Counseling


College counseling centers play an important role in the training and supervision of counselor trainees. This article addresses the importance of communication between college counselors and academic counseling program faculty when college counselors supervise graduate students from academic counseling programs. As the authors discuss, effective communication contributes to positive and productive training experiences for graduate student trainees. Suggestions are offered for successful communication between counseling center staff and program faculty.

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The Accreditation Standards for University and College Counseling Centers of the International Association of Counseling Services (Boyd et al., 2003) highlight training and supervision as important responsibilities of counseling centers. Furthermore, the training of students in counseling programs represents one important activity in which college counselors can engage to support the educational mission of their institution. Generally speaking, because college counseling centers have a long-standing tradition serving as practicum and internship sites for trainees in counseling programs (Gallessich & Olmstead, 1987; Neimeyer, Bowman, & Stewart, 2001; Richardson & Massey, 1986), and counseling centers and academic counseling programs have historically shared a strong commitment to clinical, research, and training activities (Guinee & Ness, 2000), it is not surprising that the two entities often develop strong ties.

Given the important role that counseling centers often play in the training and supervision of counselor trainees, many college counselors are likely to serve as supervisors at some point during their tenure. When college counselors assume the responsibility of supervision, it is required that they establish and maintain communication with their supervisee's faculty to facilitate a mutually positive and productive training experience for the student as well as for the counseling center. To ensure that this type of communication between practicum supervisors and training program supervisors occurs, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision's (1993) Ethical Guidelines for Counseling Supervisors stipulate that "supervisors in training programs should communicate regularly with supervisors in agencies used as practicum and/or fieldwork sites regarding current professional practices, expectations of students, and preferred models and modalities of supervision" (Standard 3.13).

Counseling center supervisors typically communicate with one particular faculty member who serves as the training program's liaison or practicum placement coordinator. There may also be communication with additional faculty members who might be serving as a trainee's faculty supervisor. Some counseling centers designate one staff member to serve as training director to coordinate training activities, but all college counselors serving as individual supervisors--not just the training director--must effectively communicate with their trainees' program faculty. When the student arrives from a training program located at a different institution than the counseling center, communication is particularly vital. It has been our experience, however, that college counselors who become supervisors often have not identified the steps that are necessary to ensure that communication with program faculty is successful.

The primary purposes of this article are to show why communication between college counselors and program faculty is important when college counselors supervise graduate student trainees and to offer suggestions for college counselors to enhance such communication. We discuss what college counselors should expect from academic counseling programs regarding communication related to the training and supervision of graduate students. This article addresses primarily the training and supervision of students completing a supervised field experience while still in a counseling degree program, either at the master's or doctoral level. …

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