Clinical Supervision for International Counselors-in-Training: Implications for Supervisors

By Sangganjanavanich, Varunee Faii; Black, Linda L. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Clinical Supervision for International Counselors-in-Training: Implications for Supervisors


Sangganjanavanich, Varunee Faii, Black, Linda L., Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


International students face many challenges as counselors-in-training. This study sought to identify, through a phenomenological examination, the supervisory needs, experiences, attitudes, and perceptions of international counselors-in-training during their first practicum. The themes of supervisor insensitivity, interpersonal isolation, inter-cultural confusion and stereotyping, as well as unique learning experience emerged from participants' narratives. Implications and recommendations for counselor educators and supervisors are provided.

Supervision is essential to counselor development both personally and professionally. Supervision is triadic in nature, involving a supervisor, a supervisee, and a client. Within this relationship, the supervisor aims to foster and enhance the supervisee's professional development and competence as well as to ensure the client's welfare through the monitoring of the quality of professional services (Bernard Sc Goodyear, 2009; Falender Sc Shafranske, 2004; Watkins, 1997).

Researchers suggest the supervisor relationship and working alliance between supervisees and supervisors is significant (Bhat & Davis, 2007; Ramos-Sánchez et ai., 2002). A functional relationship is essential for certain knowledge to be conveyed from supervisors to supervisees (Loganbill, Hardy, &C Delworth, 1982). In the best of times, this relationship is intended to promote growth in supervisees and can be a source of trust, support, and understanding. In the worst of times, it can be a source of confusion, conflict, and misunderstanding. Conflict in supervison happens when the supervisor and supervisee are not able to communicate thier needs and concerns to one another (D'Andrea Sc Daniels, 1997). Crosscultural issues in supervision may occur when the supervisor, supervisee, and client differ in terms of ethnicity, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, spirituality belief, or ableness. Many studies have reported that multicultur alism or diversity in supervision is a potential issue influencing supervisory relationships (Bernard &C Goodyear, 2009; Constantine, 1997; D'Andrea & Daniels 1997; Pope-Davis, Toporek, & Ortega-Villalobos, 2003).

The counseling profession has recognized the importance of multicultural issues in training, however, there are few empirical studies focusing on this issue, Constantine (1997) studied multicultural supervision between predoctoral interns and their supervisors and found supervisees and supervisors spent almost 15% of their supervision time addressing multicultural issues. Some participants reported that it would have been beneficial for them if more time had been focused on multicultural issues in supervision, Miscommunications, misunderstandings, hidden agendas, assumptions, and disconnections between supervisors and supervisees seemed to occur when supervisors fail to initiate, explore, or discuss cultural issues in supervision.

Hird, Cavalieri, Dulko, Felice, and Ho (2001) noted that the power differential in supervisory relationships had the potential to impact the environment in which supervisees could address multiculturai issues. Supervisees believed they were unable to voice their concerns. As a result, experiences and perspectives of supervisees regarding multicultural supervision were often unspoken and unheard, Supervisors who failed to integrate culture as a part of the supervision process were likely to experience frustration and resistance from their supervisees, and eventualIy the supervisees silenced themselves in supervision.

Acculturation results when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups (Redfield, Linton, Sc Herskovits, 1936). Ay can and Berry (1996) and Searle and Ward (1990) suggested that the psychological adaptation of migrants and minorities included generational status, education, language mastery, social disadvantage, and cultural distance. …

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