Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

Supervision for Preparation and Practice of School Counselors: Pathways to Excellence

Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

Supervision for Preparation and Practice of School Counselors: Pathways to Excellence

Article excerpt

In this article, the importance of clinical supervision for school counselors is examined in terms of prior literature and the school counseling context. Standards relative to supervision are presented, followed by an overview of each article in the special section of the Counselor Education and Supervision journal (Vol. 45. No. 4, June 2006).


Counselor identity development is a process of professional acculturation emerging through guided participation in supervision.--O'Byrne & Rosenberg, 1998, p. 37

When counselors without adequate preparation assume responsibility for supervising trainees, they may inadvertently portray supervision as a superficial requirement and miss the opportunity to adequately prepare individual members of the next generation of counselors.--Magnuson, Norem, & Bradley, 2001, p. 214

These two quotes highlight the critical connection between supervision and professional identity. Supervision, in the most general terms, is a process by which a more experienced professional provides guidance to a novice entering the profession, providing education for the trainee, gatekeeping for the profession, and assurance that only trained and appropriate candidates enter the field (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004). Furthermore, supervision is a social process involving immersion in the professional culture through which the novice learns mores, attitudes, values, modes of thinking, and strategies for problem solving that are embedded in that culture, thereby acquiring a professional identity (Auxier, Hughes, & Kline, 2003; O'Byrne & Rosenberg, 1998). This supervision process is used in a variety of professions, such as clinical psychology (Gabbay, Kiemle, & Maguire, 1999), nursing (Hancox, Lynch, Happell, & Biondo, 2004), school psychology (Fischetti & Crespi, 1999), and teaching (Pajak, 2002; Zepeda, 2002). In all these professions, as in counseling, supervision is a rite of passage, the means by which skills are refined, theory and practice are integrated, and trainees explore their new professional identities in preparation for induction into their profession.

Although the development of a viable professional identity may be facilitated by colleagues in the field, as in a mentoring model (VanZandt & Perry, 1992), professional identity problems and resulting performance issues have been linked in the literature to a lack of clinical supervision (Barret & Schmidt, 1986; McMahon & Patton, 2000). Service delivery is compromised when supervision is not adequate; the potential for excellence is eroded when the training of counselors ends at graduation, a point at which the benefits of clinical supervision, so necessary for continued professional development (Crespi, 1998), are no longer available or accessed (Freeman & McHenry, 1996; Haynes, Corey, & Moulton, 2003; Page, Pietrzak, & Sutton, 2001; Sutton & Page, 1994).

In particular, school counseling has struggled with the development of a recognized, consistent professional identity (Barret & Schmidt, 1986; Herlihy, Gray, & McCollum, 2002; Sink, 2002), which correlates with problematic professional induction and, in the long term, with problematic service delivery (Lambie & Williamson, 2004; McMahon & Patton, 2000; Portman, 2002). In a study examining induction into the school counseling profession, Matthes (1992) found that "the novice school counselor frequently functions in isolation without the support of a colleague with similar preparation and perspective" (p. 248), creating an environment in which principals and teachers, rather than professional school counselors, became the primary referent group. Matthes concluded that, unlike other professions, the process of induction for school counselors lacked clearly stated expectations, coaching, and intensive clinical supervision. …

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