Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Impact of Wellness-Focused Supervision on Mental Health Counseling Practicum Students

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Impact of Wellness-Focused Supervision on Mental Health Counseling Practicum Students

Article excerpt

Wellness is a broad term used to capture the essence of individuals' movement toward optimal health that includes the integration of one's cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions. As people operate from a state of wellness they are more engaged in life, their communities, and the world (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000). The field of mental health counseling has given great attention to wellness and the importance of provider self-care (American Counseling Association, 2014; Lawson & Myers, 2011; Lenz & Smith, 2010; Lindo et al., in press; Myers et al., 2000; Newswald-Potter, Blackburn, & Noel, 2013; Ohrt, Prosek, Ener, & Lindo, 2015; Roach & Young, 2007; Smith, Robinson, & Young, 2007; Wolf, Thompson, & Smith-Adcock, 2012; Wolf, Thompson, Thompson, & Smith-Adcock, 2014). The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP; 2015) has noted that it is important for professional counselors to be mindful of personal wellness and requires counselor education programs to teach counselors-in-training (CITs) strategies for assessing and maintaining or improving personal wellness.

Following the results of studies that explored counseling students' wellness, Roach and Young (2007), Smith et al. (2007), and Wolf et al. (2014) emphasized the need for integration of wellness awareness, knowledge, and skills for students in counselor training programs. Roach and Young hypothesized that CITs would naturally improve their levels of wellness over the course of their counseling training. Their results did not support their hypothesis. Roach and Young and Smith et al. found that counselors and CITs experience an increased amount of psychological stress and a decrease in personal wellness during their clinical training. Wolf et al. measured the degree to which wellness workshops improved participants' wellness. They found that students who participated in the wellness workshops demonstrated increased wellness and described several benefits of participating in the workshops, such as enhanced self-awareness, a greater connection to spirituality, and a better ability to maintain balance (Wolf et al., 2014). The accumulated results of these studies indicate the need for wellness approaches to be applied and practiced during CITs' training.

Wellness Training in Supervision

Several researchers emphasized the importance of wellness training during counselor education curriculum and independent workshops (e.g., Lindo et al., in press; Ohrt et al., 2015; Roach & Young, 2007; Smith et al., 2007; Wolfet al., 2014). In fact, the Best Practices in Clinical Supervision charged supervisors with routinely assessing supervisees' level of wellness and ability to provide quality care to clients (Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, 2011). Yet there is little published research regarding wellness training during supervision (Lenz, Sangganjanavanich, Balkin, Oliver, & Smith, 2012).

Researchers examined the impact of a wellness workshop during CITs' practicum supervision (Lindo et al., in press; Ohrt et ah, 2015). Ohrt et ah (2015) provided practicum students with a 1.5-hour wellness workshop during students' first practicum meeting. They did not provide ongoing wellness discussion or training throughout the practicum semester. Lindo et ah (in press) provided information to students about burnout signals, compassion fatigue risks, and self-care strategies throughout the practicum semester. The results of the studies demonstrated that one informational session about wellness was not enough for students to maintain their level of personal wellness and that ongoing wellness discussion was vital to students' ability to apply the wellness concepts throughout the course of practicum (Lindo et ah, in press; Ohrt et ah, 2015).

Lenz and Smith (2010) discovered a lack of a wellness focus within the supervision models. …

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