Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy Supervision Developments and Innovations for the New Millennium: Contributions from the Cutting Edge

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy Supervision Developments and Innovations for the New Millennium: Contributions from the Cutting Edge

Article excerpt

What are some of the most recent, cutting-edge developments and innovations in psychotherapy supervision? And what is their particular significance for supervision now and into its future? In this special supervision issue of the American Journal of Psychotherapy, those questions are considered, and some compelling answers are provided. In what follows, I introduce this special journal issue: (a) define supervision and indicate its purposes; (b) summarize the contents of each innovative paper; and (c) accentuate the significance of each presented development/innovation. The papers contained in this issue boldly speak to supervision's future and provide exciting-and highly profitable- directions to pursue in forever making psychotherapy supervision a far more anchored, accountable, and educational experience.

Psychotherapy supervision, which has been more than a century in the making, can be defined as a "distinct professional activity" (Falender & Shafranske, 2004, p. 3), "an intervention" (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014, p. 9), or "a pedagogical method" (Gordan, 1996, p. 1) in which a senior professional (supervisor) serves as mentor or guide to a junior professional (supervisee) who is in the process of learning and practicing psychotherapy. Supervision is designed to enhance supervisees' professional functioning, involves evaluation of that professional functioning by the supervisor, and is a hierarchical monitoring process (supervisor to supervisee) that serves to protect both patients and profession (Milne, 2007; Milne & Watkins, 2014; Thomas, 2010).

In psychotherapy education, supervision may well be our "single most important contributor to training effectiveness" (Gonsalvez & Milne, 2010, p. 233)-unparalleled in its power and potential to prepare budding therapists for practice and assist more advanced therapists further develop their treatment skills. During the last few decades attention to and interest in supervision have grown: Its educational stature has increasingly ascended, it has become solidly and firmly established as a substantive area of practice and inquiry, and its relevance and reach have increased internationally (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014; Borders & Brown, 2005; Hess, Hess, & Hess, 2008; Milne, 2009; Watkins, 1997; Watkins & Milne, 2014). The educative power and preeminence of supervision in the teaching and learning of psychotherapy appears to be appreciated as never before, and all indications suggest that this sweeping embrace of supervision can be expected to continue unabated in the years and decades ahead (cf. Bernard, 2005; Gonsalvez, 2008; Hess, 2011; Roth & Pilling, 2008; Szecsody, in press; Watkins, 2012b).

Psychotherapy supervision is a primary means (if not the primary means) by which we teach, transmit, and perpetuate the traditions, practice, and culture of psychotherapy. Furthermore, supervision is also a professional service that (a) many practitioners will provide at some point during their careers, and (b) merits its own specific training attention if it is to be done well (Fleming, 2012; Watkins, 2012a). Psychotherapy supervision, broadly and routinely embraced as an educational sine qua non, looms large in the "the making" of psychotherapy practitioners.

During the last generation of supervision study and practice, a number of substantive changes occurred in the landscape of psychotherapy supervision that forever altered it. Some of the most exciting and revolutionary changes transpired in the last decade. The focus of this journal issue will be on several recent supervision developments and innovations. In what follows, two specific questions will be addressed:

What are some of the most recent, cutting edge supervision developments and innovations that most merit our attention?

Why do they seem so significant for supervision now and in the future?

Matters that will be given accent-supervision competencies/best practices, evaluation, research, supervisor training, and technology, have been chosen because of either (a) the significant impact they already have had on the supervision field or (b) the possibility of significant and enduring impact they appear poised to deliver. …

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