Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Clinical Supervision in the 21st Century: Revisiting Pressing Needs and Impressing Possibilities1

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Clinical Supervision in the 21st Century: Revisiting Pressing Needs and Impressing Possibilities1

Article excerpt


Where there is psychological treatment, there is need for psychological treatment supervision. As the practice of psychotherapy and counseling has become increasingly globalized (Hohenshil, Amundson, & Niles, 2013), the practice of clinical supervision has been accordingly challenged to become increasingly globalized as well. Affirming evidence to that effect can now be seen on a number of fronts, including the organization of important international supervision conferences (e.g., the Advances in Clinical Supervision conference recently held in Sydney, Australia), the conduct of cross-continent supervision research (e.g., Son & Ellis, 2013), and the creation of new publication outlets (e.g., Journal of International Counselor Education) that highlight such contributions from around the world. At the recent International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision that international flavor was also nicely displayed, with attention being given to supervision in Botswana, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Korea, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, and Venezuela (e.g., Szilagyi, 2013). We are fast becoming a world awash in commitment to supervision, and all indications point to further continuation and enhancement of that emphasis in the future (Milne, Gonsalvez, & Watkins, 2013). As Gonsalvez and Milne (2010) have rightly stated, ". . . international trends suggest a movement from clinical supervision being an optional competency . . . to it being [professional] essential . . ." (Gonsalvez & Milne, 2010, p. 238).

In surveying the current supervision scene, what might we identify as some of its most pressing needs and impressing possibilities? In two papers appearing near last century's end, I (1995, 1998) examined the then current status of clinical supervision and identified several needs that did indeed press for attention at that time. Those identified needs focused on pointed deficits that were clearly evident in the areas of supervision measurement, research, and education (e.g., need for more valid, reliable supervision measures and longitudinal research). If supervision then is compared with supervision now, how has it advanced? And what seem to be supervision needs that still press for attention? In this paper, I would like to consider those questions; it seems most timely to do so. While changes over the course of supervision's history have typically been far more gradual and slowly evolving than otherwise, that does not in any way appear to have been the case for supervision scholarship and practice across the last 15 years. Some sweeping changes-unprecedented in supervision's 100-year plus history-have certainly occurred (e.g., casting supervision training and practice within a competency-based framework) and are seemingly of such magnitude that they will affect its trajectory forevermore. As we push boldly forward into the new millennium, I would like to look more closely at the benefits of those changes for supervision and to identify areas in which further change is needed if supervision is to advance most profitably.

In taking that closer look here, I would like to cast my supervision net wider than was done in my earlier papers. In those two 1990s efforts while needs of potential international import were identified, only supervision work that had been done (and was then occurring) in the United States was taken into account. I would like to look more broadly in this paper-considering the current scene, pressing needs, and impressing possibilities of clinical supervision in international perspective. As Bernard and Goodyear (2014) have indicated, clinical supervision is "robustly international" in nature. In what follows, I hope to capture some of that robustly international feel.


In effort to better contrast supervision then with supervision now, I will first provide a brief summary statement about the status of clinical supervision in the 1990s for each topic area. …

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