General and Supervision-Specific Attachment Styles: Relations to Student Perceptions of Field Supervisors

By Bennett, Susanne; Mohr, Jonathan et al. | Journal of Social Work Education, Spring-Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

General and Supervision-Specific Attachment Styles: Relations to Student Perceptions of Field Supervisors


Bennett, Susanne, Mohr, Jonathan, BrintzenhofeSzoc, Karlynn, Saks, Loretta Vitale, Journal of Social Work Education


HISTORICALLY, THE STUDENT-SUPERVISOR relationship has been considered central to social work field education (Kadushin & Harkness, 2002; Munson, 2002; Nye, 2002; Reynolds, 1942; Robinson, 1936; Saari, 1989; Shulman, 1993; Towle, 1954). Research has delineated the behaviors that social work students value and prefer in their supervisors (Fortune & Abramson, 1993; Fortune, McCarthy, & Abramson, 2001; Knight, 2001; Power & Bogo, 2002). Fortune and Abramson (1993), for example, found that the supervisor's availability, openness, trust, and support predicted satisfaction among graduate social work students. Kadushin (1992) found that the most frequently valued supervisor characteristic among social work students was the supervisor's ability to develop positive relationships with supervisees. Although social work research has clearly supported the importance of a positive supervisory relationship, relatively little work has investigated the student characteristics that contribute to a productive relationship.

Both social work educators (Bennett & Saks, 2006) and psychologists (Newswald-McCalip, 1995; Pistole & Watkins, 1995; Watkins, 1995) have proposed that attachment theory may offer a useful framework for understanding student and supervisor contributions to the quality of the supervisory relationship. Attachment theory, which originated from the work of Bowlby (1982, 1988) and Ainsworth (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall 1978), focuses on the role of close personal relationships in coping with novel challenging, and stressful experiences. In many ways, dynamics in the field supervisory relationship resemble those of attachment relationships, particularly when students are in the early stages of training. For example, social work graduate students often seek proximity or closeness to their supervisors. They return to the supervisor when distressed or uncertain, seeking comfort and clarification regarding their work. Also, when students feel supported by their supervisors, they may be more likely to engage in the exploration needed to develop new skills. Because fieldwork training is likely to involve the types of new and challenging experiences that are presumed to activate attachment-related patterns, Bennett and Deal (in press) have hypothesized that students' patterns of attachment may influence their perceptions of and behavior in the supervisory relationship.

This research extends this line of conceptualization by empirically examining two facets of student attachment within the supervisory relationship: students' general patterns of attachment in close relationships (i.e., general attachment style), and students' specific patterns of attachment with respect to their fieldwork supervisor (i.e., supervision-specific attachment style). In particular, the current study explores the associations between these two facets of attachment, as well as the degree to which these attachment variables predict students' perceptions of their supervisors and the supervisory working alliance.

Literature Review

Overview of Attachment Theory and Research

Attachment theory is considered one of the most influential, empirically based theories of human behavior, offering a multifaceted account of the formation and maintenance of close relationships (Rholes & Simpson, 2004). Three decades of studying attachment processes has moved the research focus from infant behavior to functioning across the lifespan. Bowlby (1982, 1988) and Ainsworth et al. (1978) proposed that humans have inborn needs for proximity to others in order to feel protected and safe. They believed that a secure base of attachment with an attachment figure enables exploration of the world; one returns to the attachment figure when frightened or distressed, using this person as a safe haven. Internal working models of attachment (i.e., internalized representations of attachment relationships) are believed to develop on the basis of early relational experiences. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

General and Supervision-Specific Attachment Styles: Relations to Student Perceptions of Field Supervisors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.