Supervision Experiences of New Professional School Counselors

By Bultsma, Shawn A. | Michigan Journal of Counseling, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Supervision Experiences of New Professional School Counselors


Bultsma, Shawn A., Michigan Journal of Counseling


Traditionally, professionals in the mental health field have been permitted to regulate themselves under the ethical condition that they place the welfare of the general public above their own interests (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004). The counseling profession has used the practice of supervision to monitor the welfare of those served by assessing the performance and professional competence of both trainees and new professionals (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004).

Consideration of the practice of supervision in school settings had been limited until the past two decades, during which a growing body of research informed the applied practice of supervising school counseling trainees who were enrolled in master's degree programs (Baker, Exum, & Tyler, 2002; Cigrand & Wood, 2011; Getz, 1999; Henderson, 1994; Nelson & Johnson, 1999; Peterson & Deuschle, 2006; Roberts & Morotti, 2001; Stickel, 1995; Studer, 2005, 2006; Wood & Rayle, 2006). Studer (2006) noted that attention to the practice of supervision for school counselor trainees has ensured that individuals with whom the trainee works are not negatively affected. However, Studer also commented that discussion of using supervision to support new school counseling professionals continues to receive little attention. This concern was also identified by Moyer (2011), who noted that the limited material about school counselor supervision is rapidly becoming outdated. This study addresses this inadequacy by documenting the supervision experiences of 11 new professional school counselors.

Background

Henderson (1994) and Studer (2005, 2006) have documented the shortage of competent professional school counselors who are trained and/or certified to provide supervision in schools. Studer (2006) noted that formal training in the practice of supervision is generally limited to specialist and doctoral programs rather than master's degree programs. As a result, the supervision of new school counselors is most often provided by professional school counselors and/or principals who have had no formal training in supervision.

An additional concern is that professional school counselors who have been trained in supervision received training in supervision theories, models, and modalities that were designed and implemented for use in clinical settings, such as mental health agencies and private practices. Until recently, these supervision training experiences failed to address the unique application of supervision in school settings (Getz, 1999; Henderson, 1994; Studer, 2006). Studies focusing on post-degree supervision of professional school counselors have documented the underutilized practice of school counselor supervision in schools and included recommendations for the practice and delivery of supervision for school counseling professionals who have completed their formal educational training. Samples of these recommendations include peer supervision (Agnew, Vaught, Getz, & Fortune, 2000; Borders, 1991; Crutchfield & Borders, 1997), peer consultation (Benshoff & Paisley, 1996), group supervision (Crutchfield et al., 1997; Gainor & Constantine, 2002), and clinical supervision (Henderson & Lampe, 1992; Sutton & Page, 1994). Several authors have focused their work specifically on theories, models, and modalities of supervision that attempt to address the practice of supervision for professional school counselors (Borders, 1989; Getz 1999; Nelson & Johnson, 1999; Page, Pietrzak, & Sutton, 2001; Peace, 1995; Protivnak, 2003).

While it is critical that school counselors develop counseling skills as part of the delivery of a comprehensive guidance and counseling program (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2010), the responsibilities of school counselors also include the development of skills in individual student planning, guidance curricula, and system support. As Devlin, Smith, and Ward (2009) concluded, few supervision models meet the complex needs presented by school counselors. …

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