Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reducing the Research-Practice Gap in Domestic Violence

The under-utilization of research by domestic violence practitioners and the lack of attention by researchers to the experiences and wisdom of practitioners have been identified by numerous scholars. This “research-practice gap” has the potential to hinder progress in both research and practice. In the area of practice, approaches shown to be ineffective may continue to be used, and demonstrated effective approaches may fail to be implemented. In the area of research, failure to consider practical implications of studies can lead to research that is out of line with the actual needs of clients and service providers. For these reasons, the domestic violence research-practice gap represents a significant challenge for both researchers and practitioners to address.

CED faculty member Christine Murray and her colleagues have conducted a series of studies to understand and address various facets of the gap between research and practice in domestic violence prevention and intervention. The first study involved a statewide survey of domestic violence service providers to examine their needs and perceptions related to research (Murray & Welch, 2010). The second study involved the development of a scale to measure domestic violence researchers’ perceptions of the links between research and practice (Murray & Smith, 2009). The third study involved a Delphi study of representatives from state domestic violence coalitions to identify possible solutions to bridging the gap between research and practice (Murray, Smith, & Avent, 2010).

What are some of the major lessons learned through these studies?

1. Three barriers to service providers’ access to research findings are costs, time required to read and interpret research articles, and highly specialized technical language that is difficult to comprehend without extensive training in research methods

2. To maximize the accessibility of research-based information for service providers, research summaries should be presented in brief, highly readable formats, and the practical implications should be emphasized.

3. Domestic violence researchers and practitioners generally are interested in working together. However, practitioners and researchers may have had negative experiences with members of the "other" group, and so greater efforts are needed to bring them together to foster dialogue.

4. Research-based guidelines for practice with clients impacted by domestic violence should not be rigidly prescriptive. Research findings cannot provide all of the answers, and information should be presented in a way that leaves room for the informed clinical judgment of practitioners.

5. Researchers may need to learn more about practical demands faced by service providers. Likewise, service providers may benefit from additional training in understanding and applying research.


Murray, C. E., & Smith, P. H. (2009). Perceptions of research and practice among domestic violence researchers. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 1, 4-21.

Murray, C. E., Smith, P. H., & Avent, J. (2010). Solutions to the research-practice gap in domestic violence: A modified Delphi study with domestic violence coalition leaders. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 19, 424-449.

Murray, C. E., & Welch, M. (2010). Preliminary construction of a service provider-informed domestic violence research agenda. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. First published on-line on February 2, 2010 as doi:10.1177/0886260509354883.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends: Peer Supervision for School Counselors

by Lucy Lewis, Ed.S, MS, NCC

School counselors face unique challenges related to the provision of individual and group counseling within the school setting. School counselors are charged with the diverse tasks of helping students navigate routine developmental challenges, facilitating responses to crisis situations when they occur, and generating solutions to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners. Unlike counselors working in community mental health settings, school counselors are often the only individual in the building providing counseling services. With the absence of professional colleagues available within the same setting, principals and superintendents with no background in school counseling often serve as supervisors (Page, Pietrzak, & Sutton, 2001).

Given that peers in school settings possess similar experiences with student issues and familiarity with the responsibilities incurred by school counselors, peer supervision may provide a forum for school counselors to provide social support along with skill enhancement (Agnew, Vaught, Getz, & Fortune, 2000; Crutchfield & Borders, 1997; Thomas, 2005). Peer supervision is defined as “a structured, supportive process in which counselor colleagues (or trainees) in pairs or in groups, use their professional knowledge and relationship expertise to monitor practice and effectiveness on a regular basis for the purpose of improving specific counseling, conceptualization, and theoretical skills” (Wilkerson, 2006, p. 62).

Selection of Peer Supervisors

Autonomy and flexibility exists in determining the size of the supervision group, frequency of meetings, and communication modalities; thus, peer supervision can be adapted to the specific needs of the dyad or group and places the impetus for supervision on the school counselors. School counselors engaged in peer supervision report receiving support and skill enhancement and view peer supervision as an asset to their professional development (Agnew et al., 2000; Benshoff & Paisley, 1996; Butler & Constantine, 2006; Crutchfield & Borers, 1997; Page et al., 2001). Few specific recommendations exist for the selection of peer supervisors, allowing the counselor autonomy in selecting characteristics of the peer supervisor that best fit individual needs. Considerations that may be helpful include years of experience counseling, theoretical orientation, or grade levels served.

Connecting with Potential Peer Supervisors

School counselors could utilize the networks provided by alumni counselor education programs to connect with other school counselor graduates (Thomas, 2005). With the increased use of online social networking capabilities, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, school counselors are not limited by geographical location in the selection of peer supervisors. Technologies such as Skype or FaceTime make it possible for school counselors to provide peer supervision online instead of face-to-face.

Focus of Peer Supervision

School counselors report that structured sessions including the use of tape review and case presentation are beneficial. Tape review allows the supervisees to focus on providing specific feedback on skills and interventions used in the session. Secure services such as YouSendIt or Digital Dropbox make the sending of tape recordings and confidential case notes among peer supervisors easier and more efficient. Ideas for structuring the sessions include:

v Dividing the supervision between discussing relevant research articles on effective interventions and sharing the content of sessions through case presentation (Benshoff & Paisley, 1996; Thomas , 2005)

v Giving equal emphasis to providing support and enhancing skill development through case presentations (Crutchfield & Borders, 1997)

v Providing a structured format that allows for goal setting, evaluation of progress towards goals, and an opportunity to provide feedback to one another on the peer supervision process (Wilkerson, 2006)

Peer supervision may provide school counselors with a necessary roadmap to successfully navigate the challenges faced in the school counseling profession. Resourcefulness is a hallmark of the school counseling profession and school counselors can draw upon rich experiences in the field to provide one another with needed supervision experiences. The following recommended readings provide school counselors interested in peer supervision with additional information on peer supervision techniques and models.

Recommended Readings

Agnew, T., Vaught, C. C., Getz, H. G., & Fortune, J. (2000). Peer group clinical supervision

program fosters confidence and professionalism. Professional School Counseling, 4,


Benshoff, J. M., & Paisley, P. O. (1996). The structured peer consultation model for school

counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 74, 314-318.

Butler, S. K., & Constantine, M. G. (2006). Web-based peer supervision, collective self-esteem

and case conceptualization ability in school counselor trainees. Professional School

Counseling, 10, 146-152.

Crutchfield, L. B., & Borders, L. D. (1997). Impact of two clinical peer supervision models on

practicing school counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 75, 219-230.

Page, B. J., Pietrzak, D. R., & Sutton, J. M., Jr. (2001). National survey of school counselor

supervision. Counselor Education & Supervision, 41, 142-150.

Thomas, S. R. (2005). The school counselor alumni peer consultation group. Counselor

Education & Supervision, 45, 16-29.

Wilkerson, K. (2006). Peer supervision for the professional development of school counselors:

Toward an understanding of terms and findings. Counselor Education & Supervision, 46,