Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Supervisors-in-Training: The Experience of Group-Format Supervision-of-Supervision/Superviseurs En Formation : La Méta-Supervision Vécue En Groupe

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Supervisors-in-Training: The Experience of Group-Format Supervision-of-Supervision/Superviseurs En Formation : La Méta-Supervision Vécue En Groupe

Article excerpt

Given that clinical supervision is emerging as a distinct clinical competency, efforts are being made to differentiate the activities of a clinical supervisor from those of a counsellor or therapist. This is a necessary step if we are to crystallize its discrete identity and practice domain (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014; Falender & Shafranske, 2004; Milne, Sheikh, Pattison, & Wilkinson, 2011). Additionally, establishing supervision-distinct competencies is a precursor to creating training interventions and programs with goals and outcomes specific to the practice of supervision (Falender et ah, 2004). However, as comprehensive curricula and training practices are somewhat of a distal reality (Hadjistavropoulos, Kehler, & Hadjistavropoulos, 2010), our efforts continue to be focused on understanding the actual processes of supervision training. This knowledge can be used as a scaffold for articulating what will constitute best practice strategies for the training of supervisors.

While many supervisors working today do so without the benefits of previous formal training (Peake, Nussbaum, & Tindell, 2002), the current generation of trainees, especially at the doctoral level, can expect at least didactic coursework on the topic, with most receiving a combination of didactic and experiential training. It should come as no surprise that formal training in supervision is seen as valuable (McMahon & Simons, 2004; Milne & James, 2002) and that engaging in a variety of training activities (including the provision of actual supervision) has positive impacts on supervisory development (Lyon, Heppler, Leavitt, & Fisher, 2008). Training in supervision has been shown to impact competence and professional identity (Baker, Exum, & Tyler, 2002; Ronnestad, Orlinsky, Parks, Davis, & the Society for Psychotherapy Research Collaborative Research Network, 1997; Ybrant & Armelius, 2009). However, as Watkins (2012a) recently cautioned, "Supervisor training may well have an impact, but that is by no means a solidly established empirical reality" (p. 299).

Most supervisor trainers would agree that didactic learning is amplified and consolidated when it is twinned with an experiential component, that is, when the supervisor-in-training (SIT) is able to provide supervision to a trainee (usually at an early level of clinical development). For both clinical and ethical reasons this activity is monitored by the SIT's supervisor, who provides supervision-ofsupervision (SOS), sometimes referred to as "consultancy." Although SOS can take various approaches (e.g., group supervision with SITs at similar levels of professional development), its function is to provide an apprenticeship model of practice where the trainees can move through the various supervisory tasks above the safety net of an experienced supervisor (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014). As with clinical trainees, SITs must confront the familiar issues of anxiety and lack of confidence; SOS meetings occurring early in the training process can focus on providing SITs with structure and guidance (Russell & Petrie, 1994).

As the SIT gains experience and confidence, the SOS increasingly focuses on interventions and other events, such as parallel processes (Stoltenberg, 2004). Recently, Watkins (2012b), drawing on the work of Jerome Frank (Frank & Frank, 1991), wrote about how the supervisor "remoralizes" SITs as they struggle with debilitating emotions and professional doubts. Implicit in the foregoing is a developmental framework (Stoltenberg, 2004) within which the trainee is supported and challenged through what are considered fairly universal tasks and events. In a slightly different vein, Ellis and Douce (1994), based on their supervisory experiences, described recurring issues in the supervision of SITs as a guide for supervisors using a group SOS format. Indeed, while the experiential nature of SOS garners ongoing praise and support, its contribution to the overall development of the supervisor remains somewhat unknown. …

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