Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Supervision in Career Counseling: Implications for Practice

by Melissa Wheeler

In practice, career counselors must balance addressing a client’s presenting concern with personal issues and considerations that may influence career choice. Due to the changing nature of the world of work, career counselors must stay abreast of workplace trends, unemployment numbers, and emerging career fields. Practicing career counselors must also continue to learn about emerging career theories and techniques that will influence their work with clients. How do practicing counselors receive this type of support when they may be far removed from educational settings?

Expressed Supervision Needs of Career Counselors

Ongoing supervision can be a tool for professional development and lifelong learning for career counselors in the field. Researchers have found that career counselors see the benefits of supervision, but they do not feel that they get enough supervision time (McMahon, 2005;Reid, 2010). Career counselors report wanting to receive the following from supervision (McMahon, 2005):

· Confirmation about their case conceptualizations

· Feedback on counseling techniques

· Affirmation of their counseling skills

· Suggestions for techniques to use with clients

· Additional perspectives on client conceptualizations and treatment plans

· Clarity regarding a difficult client’s presenting issues

· Support regarding issues that could lead to burnout

Special Considerations for Supervisors

Finding an appropriate supervisor can be difficult in professional settings. For career counselors in rural settings, supervisors may be in cities too far away to drive in regularly for face-to-face supervision sessions. In career counseling settings, supervisors may well be the superiors also in charge of performing performance evaluations. Furthermore, many counselors find it difficult to find a supervisor who has had training in supervision, much less training in supervision of career counselors. To ensure counselors and supervisors receive the most from supervision, supervisors of career counselors should keep the following in mind:

· Issues of power and possible dual relationships should be addressed at the beginning of the supervisory relationship so that counselors can be made to feel more comfortable discussing difficult cases with supervisors (Reid, 2010).

· Supervision time should be set aside as soon as possible and follow a set schedule. Supervision times must be protected, even when the work week becomes hectic (Reid, 2010).

· Expectations should be set in advance that both supervisor and counselor will prepare for the supervision session (Reid, 2010).

· Supervisors should be sure counselors not only are addressing a client’s presenting issues for career counseling, but also personal circumstances that may be affecting career decisions (Prieto & Betsworth, 1999).

· Supervisors should be attuned to a counselor’s beliefs surrounding career assessments and possible overreliance on assessment results for client conceptualizations (Prieto & Betsworth, 1999).

· Supervisors of career counselors should also receive supervision to enhance their skills (Reid, 2010).

· For supervisors who may not have expertise in career counseling, additional professional development opportunities should be sought (Reid, 2010).

For Further Reading:

McMahon, M. (2005) Clinical supervision in school counseling and career counseling: Is it time to develop a new story? Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 15, 105-116.

Prieto, L. R., & Betsworth, D. G. (1999). Supervision of career counseling: Current knowledge and new directions. The Clinical Supervisor, 18, 173-189.

Reid, H. L. (2010). Supervision to enhance educational and vocational guidance practice: A review. International Journal of Educational and Vocational Guidance, 10, 191-205. doi: 10.1007/s10775-010-9184-x


  1. But even if this area is not one you intend to specialize in, you will certainly find yourself counseling clients whose job, career or work-life balance is an issue.Career Counseling

  2. Nice blog. Career counseling is the necessary part of our life to become successful or achieve goal and we need a professional career counselor to show us proper direction.

  3. The points mentioned here are very helpful. Choosing a career counselor is a very important step and one should always take proper care while choosing a career guide.

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