Academic journal article TCA Journal

A Comparison of Bernard's Discrimination Model and Nance's Developmental Model of Supervision: An Application to the Preparation of Graduate Students on Counseling Programs

Academic journal article TCA Journal

A Comparison of Bernard's Discrimination Model and Nance's Developmental Model of Supervision: An Application to the Preparation of Graduate Students on Counseling Programs

Article excerpt

This article presents a supervision case study written from two perspectives: Bernard's (1979) Discrimination Model and Nance's (1990) Developmental Model. The article illustrates these two models of supervision and their application to a 16-week semester of supervision for graduate-level counseling students in their first clinical training class. The class is examined holistically and examples of individual development are provided.

How do beginning counselors acquire the appropriate skills to counsel? In many counselor training programs a pre-practicum class is required for beginning master's level students. These pre-practicum classes are the first classes where supervisees begin to apply the theoretical components they have learned by interviewing their peers. The term supervisee is used here to reflect a master's pre-practicum student in counseling. This class affords the supervisee an opportunity to learn fundamental skills necessary to become a professional counselor. The class emphasizes microcounseling/microtraining and the single-skills approach. This involves the supervisee learning a skill and then practicing the skill. The supervisee will, hopefully, understand the utility of the skill, develop competence in its application, and then progress to acquiring another skill (Borders & Leddick, 1987; Bradley, 1989). As supervisees hone their counseling skills, supervisors help them "acquire appropriate professional behavior through an examination of the supervisee's professional activities" (Hart, 1982, p. 12).

In facilitating the supervisee's professional training, the supervisor uses a model, a theory of supervision, that provides a framework for the training process. Traditional models of supervision in counseling and psychology usually run parallel to models of psychotherapy (Leddick & Bernard, 1980). For example, a counselor operating from a behaviorist perspective would transfer the goals, techniques and assumptions of behavioral psychotherapy to the supervision process. However, contemporary counselor educators have begun to recognize that supervision differs in terms of goals, needs, and foci from psychotherapy (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992).

Bernard (1992) viewed supervision as an extension of education rather than counseling. Thus, counseling based models may complicate the supervision process. Regarding this statement, two particular models have been selected for comparison and contrast in this article, the Discrimination Model (Bernard, 1992) and Nance's (1990) Developmental Model. An overview of each model will be presented, followed by several illustrations. These illustrations center on a group of supervisees in a master's degree counseling program participating in a pre practicum class. The pre-practicum class is designed to teach basic counseling skills to master's students in counseling. This class introduces supervisees to basic interviewing skills. After these skills are conceptually understood, supervisees begin to practice the skills with one another under the supervision of a professor or a doctoral student. Video and audio tapes are made of these interviews and feedback is provided. Successful completion of this course is mandatory to progress into clinical practicums and internships. The pre-practicum class format is used here to illustrate two theories of supervision. Following the illustrations, the two models are compared and contrasted.


The Discrimination Model offers a multifaceted and comprehensive perspective of supervision (Bernard, 1992). Bernard outlined three areas of focus in supervision. These areas are conceptualization skills, personalization skills, and process ski:lls. Conceptualization skills reflect the cognitive skills of the counselor, for example, the ability to link techniques to theory or the actual timing of the use of particular techniques. Personalization skills relate to the counselor's personal awareness. …

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