Supervising School Counselors and Interns: Resources for Site Supervisors

Article excerpt


This article features a review of selected resources related to supervision of school counselors and school counselors-in-training during their internship. These resources are grouped by professional associations, needs of the supervisee, needs of the supervisor, and needs of the supervisory relationship. The resources presented are not meant to be exhaustive; rather, they are intended to provide a collection of focused and practical resources for practicing school counselors who provide supervision.

Supervising School Counselors and Interns: Resources for Site Supervisors

"Shazam!!! You're a Clinical Supervisor," describes the experience of many professional counselors when a counselor-in-training requests clinical supervision during his or her internship (Riordan & Kern, 1994, p. 259). Heath and Storm (1983) elaborated on these reactions by saying experienced counselors:

have reason to worry. At any time from early morning to late evening, they may be unexpectedly drafted to serve as supervisors. .. . The therapist summoned at such times is usually far from the nearest collection of readings on ... supervision with no time for study, no opportunity for apprenticeship, (p. 36)

Though the magnitude of responsibilities associated with supervision of practicing counselors and counseling interns is daunting, the experiences in supervision are often enjoyable and rewarding (Riordan & Kern, 1994), and the opportunities to influence the development of a new colleague are profound (Magnuson, Norem, & Bradley, 2001). Supervisors are potentially the most critical element of optimal internship experiences that become the apex of a trainee's course of study.

The importance of clinical supervision is recognized for counselors who work in community settings (Magnuson et al., 2001). For example, in most states, licensure as a professional counselor requires supervised post-academic experience ranging from 2000 to 3000 hours. Licensed professional counselors often continue to receive supervision throughout their professional lifespan (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004).

On the other hand, many entry-level school counselors complete master's level requirements and are immediately expected to provide proficient school counseling services without the support of a clinical supervisor (Magnuson et al., 2001). The disparity would seem to suggest that school counselors need less sophisticated skills than their counterparts in community agencies. Indeed, competent school counselors recognize and meet multiple and diverse needs of children. They respond to crises. They design curriculum and facilitate career development. They are skillful consultants and advocates. They plan and implement comprehensive counseling programs. They assess the efficacy of those programs. They manage multiple roles and respond to diverse constituents. We contend that school counselors' responsibilities are often broader in scope than those of their counterparts in community agencies. Thus, one could conclude that supervision for entry level school counselors is more important than for professional counselors in community settings.

Page, Pietrzak, and Sutton (2001) called attention to the limited number of school counselors who receive clinical supervision. Numerous authors have confirmed this deficit and identified benefits of school counselor supervision (e.g., Agnew, Vaught, Getz, & Fortune, 2000; Benshoff & Paisley, 1996; Crutchfield & Borders, 1997; DeAngelis-Peace & Sprinthall, 1998). Herlihy, Gray and McCollum (2003) suggested that the following factors may impede the practice of supervision for school counselors: (a) A perception may exist that school counselors do not have the same need for clinical supervision as do their mental health counterparts; (b) school counselors, themselves, do not see the need for clinical supervision; (c) many school counselors operate under vaguely defined counselors' roles; and (d) most states do not mandate post-degree supervision of school counselors. …