Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Using E-Mail for Clinical Supervision in Practicum: A Qualitative Analysis. (Qualitative Analysis of E-Mail Supervision)

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Using E-Mail for Clinical Supervision in Practicum: A Qualitative Analysis. (Qualitative Analysis of E-Mail Supervision)

Article excerpt

Recent advances in computer technology have been a major resource for graduate-level rehabilitation counselor training programs (Gilbride & Stensrud, 1999; Gilbride, Breithaupe, & Hoehle, 1996; Kauppi, 1999). The availability of electronic communication creates some unique opportunities for rehabilitation faculty supervisors who are engaged in practicum and internship supervision. However, clinical supervision during practica and internship may also represent one of the greatest challenges in the distance education curriculum for rehabilitation educators (Smart, 1999).

Studies in electronic communication, or e-supervision, using a distance education approach have reported both advantages and disadvantages. Some trainees report that communications using asynchronous or non-face-to-face interactions appear to stimulate more complex levels of thinking that are more reflective and insightful and effectuate richer meaning than traditional face-to-face approaches (Bailey & Cotlar, 1994; Everett & Ahem, 1994; Gilbride, Breithaupt, and Hoehle, 1996). Stebnicki & Glover (2001) reported benefits of E-mail supervision as including: (a) ongoing access to clinical supervisors, (b) more relaxed communication styles, (c) increased time dedicated to processing and clarifying thoughts, (d) greater immediacy of responses, and (e) greater monitoring capacity. In a study using E-mail as a clinical supervisory approach, Janoff and Schoenholz (1999) reported that supervisees found it helpful to be able to process specific clinical issues and respond online after face-to-face supervision meetings. Kiesler and Sproull (1992) conducted group supervision using electronic communication and found that supervisees were able to provide more uninhibited messages with less concern for social norms than in face-to-face supervision.

Challenges noted by other researchers found that clinical supervisors using electronic supervisory approaches require: (a) more standardized procedures and structure during supervision, (b) increased time for planning supervisory sessions, (c) frequent and ongoing training for operating the newer technology, and (d) better communication between the practica and internship site supervisors (Janoff & Schoenboltz-Read, 1999; Kauppi, 1999; Kiesler & Sproull, 1992; Smart, 1999).

The recent focus upon distance education for supervision purposes has been met with skepticism regarding the adequacy of non face-to-face supervision. In a recent article, Goodyear and Bernard (1998) commented: "... counselor educators are now engaging in Internet supervision (a new millennium indeed!) before we even have any evidence that particular models are more salient than others in person-to-person format" (p. 18). While this controversy is likely not easily resolved, examination of the process and outcome of electronic communication in supervision seems timely and relevant.

In an extensive review of the literature spanning several decades, Stebnicki (1998) found no evidence to suggest that one clinical supervision :model or theory is superior to another, noting that there are an insufficient number of empirical studies to substantiate the advantage of using one model over another (Bernard & Goodyear, 1998; Borders & Leddick, 1987; Herbert, Ward, & Hemlick, 1995, Maki & Delworth, 1995). What is apparent in the literature however, is that clinical supervision is a dynamic process that requires the use of a diversity of supervisory styles and approaches that primarily: assesses supervisee learning needs; changes, shapes, or supports supervisee behaviors; and evaluates supervisees performance (Bernard & Goodyear, 1998).

Clinical supervision has been described as including attention to supervisee's growth and development in both the personal and professional arenas (Emerner, 1978; Stebnicki, 1998) but little research has been dedicated to investigating the personal growth that transpires during the practicum and internship experiences; "What is available is devoted to discussions regarding the behavior, the knowledge, or the skills that characterize effective clinical supervision" (Herbert & Richardson, 1995; p. …

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