Friday, January 28, 2011

"Moral Commitment in Intimate Committed Relationships: A Conceputalization from Cohabiting Same-sex and Opposite-sex Partners."

Amber Pope, PhD, LPC, NCC

The purpose of this study was to operationalize the construct of moral commitment as consistent with Johnson's Tripartite Model of Commitment in samples of cohabiting same-sex and opposite-sex partners. Moral commitment, the idea that one ought or feels obligated to stay in his/her relationship, is a central construct in Johnson's model which has not been defined in relationships outside of the marital context. This study intended to advance counselor's understanding of moral commitment in diverse intimate partnerships, and to continue to build on the research exploring the dimensions and determinants of commitment.

Participants were those who self-identified as having been in an intimate committed relationship with their partner for at least one year and who were currently cohabiting with their partner.

Data was collected in three steps as described below:
1.      Participants generated statements of moral commitment in response to the prompt: "I ought or feel obligated to stay in my relationship with my partner because..."
2.     Participants structured the statements generated in step one. Participants were asked to rate each statement of moral commitment based on how true it was to their experience to their relationship with their partner, and to sort the statements of moral commitment (which were printed onto small index cards) into piles based on similarity. The data in this step was analyzed to create conceptual maps of the statements of moral commitment generated by participants.
3.     Participants came to campus for focus groups to analyze and interpret the concept maps. Two focus groups were held, one for cohabiting same-sex partners (N =7) and one for cohabiting opposite-sex partners (N=6). Participants were presented with the conceptual maps and asked to determine groupings of statements of moral commitment (i.e., clusters). The participants then labeled each cluster to create the final cluster solution. Finally, the participants were asked to identify each cluster as being most descriptive of personal, moral, or structural commitment (i.e., the three dimensions of commitment as proposed by Johnson in his Tripartite Model).

Major findings:
·      Same-sex and opposite-sex partners’ typed at least one cluster in the final cluster solution as most descriptive of moral commitment, lending support to Johnson’s Tripartite Model.
·      Same-sex and opposite-sex partners conceived of clusters consistent with the person-specific obligation component of moral commitment, containing items descriptive of one’s obligation to one’s partner (i.e., “I ought to stay …because ending the relationship would hurt him or her.”).
·      Same-sex partners conceived of a cluster, “Generativity,” containing two items (i.e., “I ought to stay… because I want to have a child with him/her,” and “…because our relationship is a model for others in our social network.”) they described as related to values associated with same-sex relationship, whereas opposite-sex partners did not associate these two items with any cluster in their final cluster solution.
·      Same-sex and opposite-sex partners conceived of similar clusters of moral commitment, that they described containing statements (i.e., “I ought to stay… because I am committed to staying in our relationship;” “…because I believe most relationship problems can be worked out”) indicative of the values that keep them hopeful for a better future during relationship difficulties.


The results of the methodology should be used mainly for descriptive purposes and to inform future assessment strategies. The sample was mostly white, female, middle class, highly educated, and reported high relationships satisfaction, so generalizability of the results is limited.  The results of this study should not be considered comprehensive of all major variables impacting moral commitment.

Counselors need to be aware that the dimension of moral commitment may be a salient factor in enhancing the relationship stability and positivity in diverse types of intimate relationships. Clients' ideas of moral commitment may be influenced by external forces, such as religiosity or social pressure, and counselors should help clients deconstruct their values and beliefs. Counselors can help clients make personal decisions about moral commitment by locating the problem in the dominant culture vs. the individual. Social constructivist approaches to counseling, such as feminist therapy or solution-focused therapy, may be particularly suited to help clients examine their feelings of moral commitment. Both groups conceived of clusters of moral commitment that contained items describing values and beliefs that helped them stay hopeful during rough times in their relationships, thus counselors may want to assess for such beliefs and draw on them to increase positivity when their clients are experiencing relationship difficulties. Commitment seems to function similarly in cohabiting same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, but counselors need to remain aware of the unique social context in which these relationships are located. In particular, same-sex partners may feel an obligation to stay in their relationship to be a positive role model for other same-sex partnerships, and due to the effort and decision-making that goes into have children together in a same-sex relationship. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Personal, Relational, and Contextual Resources and Relationship Satisfaction in Same-Sex Couples

Title of Study:
Personal, Relational, and Contextual Resources and Relationship Satisfaction in Same-Sex Couples
Amber L. Pope, Christine E. Murray and A. Keith Mobley; University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The Family Journal, 18(2), 2010
What was the purpose of this research?
The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which personal, relational, and contextual resources affect positive relationship satisfaction with same-sex couples.
Who were the participants, and what were they asked to do?
This study’s 95 participants were individuals involved in same-sex intimate partnerships over the age of 18. Participants completed an on-line survey assessing their demographic backgrounds, the extent to which they received support from various personal, relationship, and contextual resources, and their levels of relationship satisfaction.
Major findings:
Participants that lived together with their partners reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction and more personal/relationship resources than those participants who were not living with their partners. Compared to heterosexual participants in previous studies, the participants in this study demonstrated greater variability in the perceived support they received from contextual resources, which may reflect that they have less support from their families-of-origin and seek support elsewhere. In addition, only relationship resources were found to contribute to relationship satisfaction, whereas previous studies with heterosexual participants suggested that both personal and relationship resources contributed to relationship satisfaction.
Major caveats:
The sample studied was out of convenience, which makes it difficult to apply the findings to persons outside of the study. In addition, all of the data were based on self-reported information, meaning that they could have been subject to participants wanting to respond in more socially desirable ways.
What does this research mean for counseling practice?
Counselors need to be aware that relationship resources can increase relationship satisfaction. Focusing on resources in counseling as opposed to deficits might help clients better meet their personal and relationship goals. In addition, counselors can focus on relationship resources that may contribute to the enhancement of both personal and contextual resources.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Power and Gender in the Supervisory Relationship

(Note: Doctoral students in CED 781a Counseling Supervision during Fall 2010 completed abbreviated literature reviews on a topic of individual interest. They wrote both a research summary and a summary for practitioners. Here, we present the summaries for practitioners. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future summaries. L. DiAnne Borders)

By Elizabeth Likis-Werle, MS, LPC
Researchers and practitioners agree that power is inherently present in supervision, that power plays an important part in the supervisory relationship, and that how power is experienced can affect relationship dynamics and professional growth. What is lacking is consistent information on exactly how power interacts with gender and is experienced by both supervisors and supervisees. Is there a difference in same sex vs. opposite sex dyads in supervisor perceptions or supervisee assertiveness? To what extent do other factors like personality, culture, and individual variables contribute to power and gender differences in supervision?
Because of gendered socialization over the years, women supervisors may be reluctant to claim power as within their capacity or may not be aware of their own personal power. Some women may use power but may be less willing to identify it, as it may be viewed as a less feminine trait. The agreement on what to call power is inconsistent across disciplines, which makes measuring it difficult. Though there are a few measurements that capture the essence of power language, they are outdated and use masculine-oriented terms. We need a more relational, female infusion of terms used to describe power such as influence, social power, interpersonal interactions, empowerment, and relational connection. It would serve the counseling and supervision fields more effectively if we could embrace the term power and acknowledge its contribution to the process. Then we could measure how power is truly used and experienced in therapeutic interactions and remove the stigma of women claiming themselves as powerful, help supervisees develop more fully.
Some of the obstacles in applying our knowledge of power dynamics are:
· The research on power in supervision has small sample sizes which may have been too small to show significance differences
· Many of the studies were more than 15-20 years old. In fact, the most cited study and one of the most comprehensive studies involving gender and power in supervision was published twenty years ago (Nelson & Holloway, 1990)
· There is also conflicting information about male and female preferences for what kinds of power they use. Some of the findings indicate that, though there are not differences in supervisor style based on gender, the language used in does supervision differ depending on the gender of the supervisee. Specifically, female supervisees were less likely to get support to assert themselves from both male and female supervisors and, when given the chance, female supervisees were more likely to defer power
The question remains that if practitioners across the fields of counseling, sociology, communication, management, psychology, and social work agree theoretically and conceptually that power differentials exist and that gender plays a role in this, how then do we make progress to address the needs of female supervisees? Here are some tips for supervisors:
· Supervisors need to increase awareness of their biases around females.
· Adapt more collaborative language and style to empower female trainees in supervision.
· Become familiar with feminist supervision models to help address power imbalances.
· Recognize the need for connection and intimacy as a significant part in fostering development and growth in female supervisees.
· Check out Szymanski's (2005) Feminist Supervision Scale addressing the gender and power differentials in supervision.

For further reading, see:

Falender, C. A. (2010). Relationship and accountability: Tensions in feminist supervision.
Women & Therapy, 33, 2-41.
McHale, E., & Carr, A. (1998). The effect of supervisor and trainee therapist gender on supervision discourse. Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 395-411.

Nelson, M. L. (1997). An interactive model for empowering women in supervision. Counselor Education & Supervision, 37, 125-139.

Nelson, M. L., & Holloway, E. L. (1990). Relation of gender to power and involvement in supervision. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37, 473-480.

Szymanski, D. M. (2005). The Feminist Supervision Scale: A rational/theoretical approach. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 221-232.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gender and Supervision

(Note: Doctoral students in CED 781a Counseling Supervision during Fall 2010 completed abbreviated literature reviews on a topic of individual interest. They wrote both a research summary and a summary for practitioners. Here, we present the summaries for practitioners. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future summaries. L. DiAnne Borders)

By Lori Notestine

When many of us think about supervision, we think about how best to improve the counseling skills of our supervisees and how to help grow their skills as clinicians. The many things that run through our minds include building a relationship, giving constructive feedback, being supportive and challenging, and providing a space for growth. What may not be on our minds as we prepare for and provide supervision is the effect of gender on the interaction between the supervisor and supervisee.

Gender, primarily that of the supervisee, has been shown in numerous studies to have some effect on supervision. Although many other factors are often at play, gender has been shown to have an effect on supervision in the following ways:

  • Communication style and messages are the most prevalent differences.
  • Males have more task oriented speech.
  • Female supervisees ask for more opinions, analyses, and evaluations of their work.
  • Males ask for more suggestions from supervisors.
  • Females are significantly more likely to have their suggestions built on or accepted.
  • Males are encouraged to send more high-power messages than are female supervisees.
  • Males perceive supervisor/supervisee relationships as better.
  • Females give more praise and supportive comments to supervisors of both sexes than do male supervisees.

Implications for Practice

When it comes to identifying ways to include the topic of gender in supervision, it can be difficult to think about how to address this matter directly. In a study examining the effects of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in supervision, Gatmon, Jackson, Koshkarian, Martos-Perry, Molina, and Patel (2001) identified one crucial aspect to consider when thinking about these issues within supervision. These researchers suggested that addressing these issues in a positive manner within supervision, whether the issues were specifically related to the supervisor, the supervisee, or the client, was critical to positive outcomes. The authors also noted that addressing these issues in a discriminatory or prejudicial way had negative effects on supervisory outcomes.

Some tips for discussing gender within supervision and addressing other gender related issues include the following:

  • Use a developmental model of supervision and address issues within the context of the supervisee’s developmental level. For example, Bernard’s Discrimination Model may be used to facilitate growth in supervisees through interacting as a teacher, counselor, and consultant. A supervisee in the early stages of development may need the supervisor to fill a more concrete teaching role, whereas a more advanced supervisee may require the supervisor to be more of a consultant.
  • Be sensitive to the effects of power differentials on supervisees.
  • Use gender fair practices.
  • Be appreciative of and celebrate both feminine and masculine characteristics.
  • Be vigilant of any ways that gender may impact and/or influence the supervisory relationship.
  • Monitor interactions with supervisees to avoid any unintentional gender biases.
  • Attend to the dynamics of interactions with both male and female supervisees and develop effective strategies for encouraging the development of supervisees’ professional identity.
  • Finally, when you have a supervisee who is of a different gender (or culturally different in any way), be sure to address these potential issues early in the supervisory relationship.

For Further Reading

*Most recommended for supervisor practitioners

*Gatmon, D., Jackson, D., Koshkarian, L., Martos-Perry, N., Molina, A., Patel, N. et al. (2001). Exploring ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation variables in supervision: Do they really matter? Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 29, 102-13.

*Granello, D. (2003). Influence strategies in the supervisory dyad: An investigation into the effects of gender and age. Counselor Education and Supervision, 42, 189-202.

*Nelson, M., & Holloway, E. (1990). Relation of gender to power and involvement in supervision. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37, 473-81.

Paisley, P., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services. (1994). Gender issues in supervision.

Sells, J., Goodyear, R., Lichtenberg, J., & Polkinghorne, D. (1997). Relationship of supervisor and trainee gender to in-session verbal behavior and ratings of trainee skills. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 44, 406-412. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.44.4.406.

Vonk, M., & And, O. (1996). Female MSW students' satisfaction with practicum supervision: The effect of supervisor gender. Journal of Social Work Education, 32, 415-19.

*Walker, J., Ladany, N., & Pate-Carolan, L. (2007). Gender-related events in psychotherapy supervision: Female trainee perspectives. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 7, 12-18.

Worthington, E., & Stern, A. (1985). Effects of supervisor and supervisee degree level and gender on the supervisory relationship. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 252-262. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.32.2.252.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cognitive Complexity for Clinical Supervisors

(Note: Doctoral students in CED 781a Counseling Supervision during Fall 2010 completed abbreviated literature reviews on a topic of individual interest. They wrote both a research summary and a summary for practitioners. Here, we present the summaries for practitioners. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future summaries. L. DiAnne Borders)

By Laura Shannonhouse

Researchers indicate that counseling students with higher levels of cognitive complexity (CC) are able to take multiple perspectives, apply counseling skills more effectively, reflect more deeply on their own thinking, and recognize their own limitations. Cognitively complex counselors remain objective, accept client ideas, encourage exploration, have more confidence, tolerate ambiguity, avoid stereotyping, describe their clients in interactional terms, and form more complex case conceptualizations. Since CC is important for practitioners to consider both for the sake of the supervisees and in their own work, some practical knowledge about CC is provided.

Though CC is defined in various ways, there is consensus that there are concrete clinical gains associated with increases in CC. Granello (2010) described cognitive complexity as “the ability to absorb, integrate and make use of multiple perspectives.” Since CC tends to be domain specific (an individual may be able to think more complexly about some topics than others), it is vital for counselors supervising others’ development to become familiar with how higher (or lower) levels of CC manifest in one’s counseling if they are to effectively mentor.

CC tends to increase during counselor training, and supervisors can take steps to assess their supervisees’ current CC in order to present experiences which can foster that growth. Owen and Lindley (2010) presented sample questions that may be used in supervision to assess and promote various aspects of CC. Their paradigm incorporates three major aspects that should be developed: identification of session activities (understanding what is going on), metacognitions (reflecting on and evaluating the counseling relationship), and epistemic cognitions (views on knowledge). For practitioners, the underlying theme is one of intentionality in understanding one’s supervisees and in selecting methods to encourage their growth. Malikiosi-Loizos and colleagues reported that specific supervisory approaches work more effectively with counselors in different levels of CC.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives has been used to foster CC development. Incorporating this ubiquitous educational theory enables supervisors to include questions and interventions that target CC in their supervisees. Granello and Underfer-Babalis (2004) stated that minimal training is required to understand the interventions used at each stage; supervisors can quickly understand this model and the intuitive nature is often appealing. Many of the applications are specifically tailored for group supervision. Practitioners should note that those who have used Bloom’s taxonomy for group supervision report an increased awareness of the need to attend to their own cognitive development.

There is also an argument that pre-existing characteristics position counselor trainees to develop higher order levels of thinking faster. Supervisors should recognize and foster the following: drawing upon accumulated experiences, taking multiple perspectives, and valuing ambiguity along with specific counseling techniques and the general wellness of their supervisees. Researchers have indicated that counseling experience, supervisory experience, counselor education experience, and higher degrees all contribute to one’s level of CC. Of personal significance to practitioners, Granello (2010) reported “how counselors think changes with experience.” Specifically, there appears to be a shift in practitioner CC between 5-10 and greater than 10 years of experience. Awareness of this pattern when observing colleagues and during one’s own career journey should help a practitioner’s personal development of CC.

CC, while a difficult construct to measure, is an important way to conceptualize the cognitive domain of counselor development (and has implications for the emotional and relational domains as well). The articles listed below contain several models of CC development, some of which can easily be implemented in supervisory contexts.

Recommended Readings for Practitioners:

Granello, D. H. (2010). Cognitive complexity among practicing counselors: How thinking changes with experience. Journal of Counseling and Development, 88, 92-100.

Granello, D. H., & Underfer-Babalis, J. (2004). Supervision of group work: A model to increase supervisee cognitive complexity. Journal of Specialists in Group Work, 29, 159-173.

Jennings, L., & Skovholt, T. (1999). The cognitive emotional, and relational characteristics of master therapists. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46, 3-11.

Malikiosi-Loizos, M., Gold, J., Mehnert, W., & Work, G. (1981). Differential supervision and cognitive structure effects on empathy and counseling effectiveness. International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, 4, 119-129.

Owen, J. & Lindley, L. D. (2010). Therapists’ cognitive complexity: Review of theoretical models and development of an integrated approach for training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 4, 128-137.

Dual Relationships in Counseling Supervision: Implications for Practice

(Note: Doctoral students in CED 781a Counseling Supervision during Fall 2010 completed abbreviated literature reviews on a topic of individual interest. They wrote both a research summary and a summary for practitioners. Here, we present the summaries for practitioners. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future summaries. L. DiAnne Borders)

By Cristina Lima

The topic of dual relationships in supervision with counseling trainees has received the attention of the professional community for decades. Ability to determine potential for ethical problems is crucial, but the ethical codes of the helping professions do not always offer concrete guidelines. Supervisors often find themselves in dual role dilemmas. Some are easier to assess and determine a course of action, such as conflicts involving romantic relationships. However, there are ambiguous situations involving social interactions or multiple professional roles when supervisors face uncertainty.

Sexual Relationships

Historically, the first concern of helping professionals in regard to dual relationships in supervision was focused on sexual relationships. Pioneer studies were important to show the prevalence of such relationships and raise awareness among professionals (Pope, Levenson, & Schover, 1979). In 1981, the American Psychological Association (APA) revised its Ethical Standards and, for the first time, stated that sexual relationships with supervisees and students were unethical. A few years later, it was clear that romantic interactions in the supervisory relationship were harmful and that the main factor associated with the risk of exploitation was the power differential between supervisor and supervisee (Glaser & Thorpe, 1986).

Social Interactions

Once the issue of sexual intimacies was settled, interest turned to non-sexual relationships, especially social interactions. The main focus of attention was the potential of harm to the working supervisory relationship because of the risk of exploitation due to the power differential, and the potential of loss of objectivity consequent to the overlapping of roles. By that time, the framework used for dual relationship between clients and therapists was assumed to be equally valid for the supervisory relationship. However, this assumption was challenged by several researchers (e.g., Bowman & Hatley, 1995; Erwin, 2000), who suggested that not all dual-relationships are harmful. Furthermore, Burian and Slimp (2000) believed that not all types of dual relationships should be avoided because of possible benefits.

Multiple Professional Roles

Besides social interactions, supervisors also were concerned with multiple professional relationships (Lamb, Catanzaro, & Moorman, 2004). Multiple professional relationships in supervision occur when there is an overlap of roles such as teacher, advisor, clinical supervisor, and administrative supervisor. These type of dual relationship, according to studies (e.g.,Tromski-Klingshirn & Davis, 2007), seem to have the potential to bring more benefits than harm to the working relationship. The conclusion is that the quality of the relationship is more important than the dual relationship per se. Professional dual relationships carry the same potential risk for exploitation and loss of objectivity; however, the risk is minimized by the fact that the multiple professional roles often share the same evaluative nature.

Professional dual relationships are often difficult to avoid. Gottlieb, Robinson, and Younggren (2007) offered recommendations for administrators, supervisors, and supervisees when facing multiple relationships. The main recommendations were to focus on the best interest of the supervisees, acknowledge power differential and evaluative roles, maintain objectivity, assess potential for harm, keep clear boundaries, and discuss the issue openly with supervisees. It seems that awareness is an important component to avoid harm.


Considering the lack of more specific guidelines, the major implication of this review is to emphasize the relevance of awareness among supervisors. Furthermore, special attention should be given to training of supervisors, including a clear distinction among different types of dual roles and different strategies to determine and choose appropriate course of action. Also, it is important to foster opportunities for dialogue among supervisors to discuss the ethical implications of such relationships, what constitutes harm and benefit in non-sexual relationships, and what constitutes quality supervisory relationship.

For Further Reading

Burian, B. K., & Slimp, A. O. (2000). Social dual-relationships during internship: A decision- making model. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 31, 332-338.

Gottlieb, M. C., Robinson, K., & Younggren, J. N. (2007). Multiple relations in supervision: Guidance for administrators, supervisors, and students. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38, 241-247.

Lamb, D. H., Catanzaro, S. J., & Moorman, A. S. (2004). A preliminary look at how psychologists identify, evaluate, and proceed when faced with possible multiple relationship dilemmas. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 248-254.

Tromski-Klingshirn, D. M., & Davis, T. E. (2007). Supervisees’ perceptions of their clinical supervision: A study of the dual role of clinical and administrative supervisor. Counselor Education & Supervision, 46, 294-304.

Reflection in Supervision: A Literature Review and Implications for Practitioners

(Note: Doctoral students in CED 781a Counseling Supervision during Fall 2010 completed abbreviated literature reviews on a topic of individual interest. They wrote both a research summary and a summary for practitioners. Here, we present the summaries for practitioners. Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future summaries. L. DiAnne Borders)

By Evette Horton

Since the 1930’s, educators have been advocating for the use of reflection in training students to be insightful, critical thinkers (Dewey, 1933). Reflection, reflectivity, and self-reflection all refer to the cyclical process of evaluating one’s experiences to develop critical thinking skills and insightfulness (Orchowski, Evangelista, & Probst, 2010). Researchers in education have found that students who use reflectivity get the most out of their learning experiences (Lyon & Brew, 2003; McAlpine, Weston, Beauchamp, Wiseman, & Beauchamp, 1999).

In supervision specifically, the reflective process refers to the counselor-in-training thinking back critically on the counseling session with the client, and bringing these thoughts and ideas to supervision for discussion. It also entails the supervisor thinking back on sessions with the supervisee. Counselor educators and supervisors are charged with training competent, reflective counselors, who are able to think critically about their clients and their interactions with them, and the reflective process enables this critical competency to develop (ACA, 2005; Magnuson & Norem, 2002). Until recently, there was not much empirical research on effective ways to use reflection in supervision. However, researchers have now begun to validate the most effective reflection activities for supervisory counseling relationships.

Using Reflection in Supervision

Journaling. Asking students to write about their experiences in internship and practicum has been shown to improve student integration of learning and insightfulness. Several researchers found that specifically reflecting on a clinical dilemma enhanced supervisees’ conceptualization of the issue and improved their counseling competencies (Jen Der Pan, Deng, & Shiou-Ling, 2008; Neufeldt, Karno, & Nelson, 1996). Therefore, supervisors should ask supervisees to journal about a difficulty they are having with a client. Since some of our counseling students are international students, one study found that using reflective journaling helped international students manage their stress and improve their English and writing skills.

Supervisors modeling reflection. Several authors have found that supervisors who use reflection themselves are modeling critical thinking skills and promoting self awareness (Jen Der Pan, 2008; Orchowski et al., 2010). Neufeldt et al. (1996) reported that supervisors must teach the reflective process to supervisees and that the supervisory relationship is paramount for doing this. To model reflection, Stevens, Emil, and Yamashita (2010) suggested that supervisors can do journaling themselves, create a safe environment for reflection, and share dilemmas they have faced in their professional life.

Reflection in group supervision. Counselor educators and supervisors often use group supervision as a way to train counselors/supervisees. Reflectivity can be introduced in to the group relationship by asking group members to bring clinical dilemmas or troubling cases to the supervision group. The supervisor helps the counselors-in-training process these cases by looking for themes and hypotheses to explain client needs. Jen Der Pan et al. (2008) found that this type of group supervision significantly improved supervisees’ counseling competencies. It is important to note that a safe, supportive group supervision environment is imperative for reflective supervision.

Given that counselor educators and supervisors are ethically bound to promote competence in our supervisees (ACA, 2005), reflection is a useful tool for promoting these critical thinking competencies. Until we have more empirical validation of reflection, these techniques are all we have to go on. Future research may give us more information on what specific models of reflection and at what times using these reflective techniques are most helpful to supervisees. At the very least, it is important for counselor educators and supervisors to model and introduce reflectivity in the supervisory relationship.

For Further Reading

(*most recommended for practitioners)

American Counseling Association (2005). ACA code of ethics. Retrieved from

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Chicago, IL: Regnery.

*Heller, S. S., & Gilkerson, L. (Eds.) (2009). A practical guide to reflective supervision. Zero to Three: Washington, DC.

Jen Der Pan, P., Deng, L. F., & Shiou-Ling, T. (2008). Evaluating the use of reflective counseling group supervision for military counselors in Taiwan. Research on Social Work Practice, 18, 346-355.

Lyon, P., & Brew, A. (2003). Reflection on learning in the operating theatre. Reflective Practice, 4, 53-66.

Magnuson, S., & Norem, K. (2002). Reflective counselor education and supervision: An epistemological declaration. Reflective Practice, 3, 167-173.

McAlpine, L., Weston, C., Beauchamp, C., Wiseman, C., & Beauchamp, J. (1999). Building a metacognitive model of reflection. Higher Education, 37(2), 105-131.

Neufeldt, S. A., Karno, M. P., & Nelson, M. L. (1996). A qualitative study of experts' conceptualization of supervisee reflectivity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43, 3-9.

*Orchowski, L., Evangelista, N. M., & Probst, D. R. (2010). Enhancing supervisee reflectivity in clinical supervision: A case study illustration. Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 47, 51-67.

Stevens, D. D., Emil, S., & Yamashita, M. (2010). Mentoring through reflective journal writing: a qualitative study by a mentor/professor and two international graduate students, Reflective Practice, 11, 347-367.