Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Use of Supervision Notes as a Targeted Training Strategy

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Use of Supervision Notes as a Targeted Training Strategy

Article excerpt

Despite a call for more training of clinical supervisors, little has emerged in the professional literature to offer pedagogical strategies for training. This article describes the use of supervision documentation to guide the development of supervisors-in-training (SITs). Specifically, supervision notes are used to assist and monitor SITs understanding and application of supervisor models.

KEYWORDS: supervisors-in-training; supervision documentation; pedagogical strategy; supervision models


The development of clinical supervision has, more or less, followed the same trajectory established by the development of counseling and psychotherapy (Bernard, 2005). Just as the process of therapy began deeply entrenched in discussions of theoretical orientation, and the relevance of the therapeutic relationship started within each theoretical approach, so too did supervision emerge from the psychotherapy theory literature (Bernard & Leddick, 1980) to be followed and sustained by decades of literature and research addressing the supervisory relationship (Bernard, 2005, 2008). It was not until the 1960s that "training" in counseling skills as we know it today was spawned, with a significant contribution made by scholars at the University of Massachusetts and their progeny (Carkhuff& Truax, 1965; Cormier, Hackney, & Segrist, 1974; Hackney & Cormier, 1973; Hackney, Ivey, & Oetting, 1970; Ivey, 1971; Ivey, Normington, Miller, Morrill, & Haase, 1968). Since then, skills courses teaching the fundamentals of the counseling process have become endemic to master's programs in counseling and related mental health professions.

Another significant influence in the deconstruction of counseling interactions (that soon evolved into an appreciation of reflection as a training activity) came from Michigan State University in the work of Kagan and his colleagues (Kagan & Krathwohl, 1967; Kagan, Krathwohl, & Farquahar, 1965; Kagan, Krathwohl, & Miller, 1963). Interestingly, Kagan (1980) was one of the first to see the supervision training potential of his earlier work and Interpersonal Process Recall began to influence the work of supervision more directly, changing supervisor training forever (Bernard, 2005).

In the 50 or so years since training became more systematic for the counseling professions, clinical supervision has made enormous strides in its own right. Whereas the theory and practice of supervision once drew almost exclusively from our understanding of counseling and psychotherapy, it is now favored with its own literature that includes journals devoted to its advancement (e.g., The Clinical Supervisor), a plethora of books and monographs, professional ethical codes, a sophisticated research base, and recognition from certification bodies (e.g., Approved Clinical Supervisor, CCE, 2000). Training and education in clinical supervision has grown exponentially in mental health professional degree programs, especially in post-master's programs. As such, the literature has included more attention to supervisor training and education. Surprisingly, however, much of the pedagogy for the training of clinical supervisors must still be deciphered from supervision literature in general.


The professional literature about clinical supervision is much more developed than the literature that describes the process of becoming a supervisor. Milne, Sheikh, Pattison, and Wilkinson (2011) noted: "No apparent consensus exists on what constitutes effective supervisor training" (p. 54). The primary foci for supervisor training to date are twofold: (1) the description of a knowledge base for supervision and a delineation of requisite competencies for the practice of supervision (e.g., Borders et al., 1991; Falender et al., 2004), and (2) models of supervisor development (e.g., Stoltenberg & McNeill, 2010; Watkins, 1990, 1993, 1994). The knowledge base for supervisors across mental health disciplines includes theory, models, relationship factors, multicultural competencies relevant to the supervisory relationship, methods, ethics, legal parameters, and evaluation skills. …

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