Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Utilizing Self-disclosure in Supervision: Implications for Supervision Practice


Emily C. Campbell, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

What was the purpose of this literature review?

The purpose of the literature review was to explore the implications of self-disclosure in

supervision practice.

·      Self-disclosure is defined as the act of sharing personal information about oneself with another person (Ladany & Walker, 2003).
·      Supervisors should expect supervisees’ nondisclosures.
·      Self-disclosure as a supervisor can be used as a tool to help decrease supervisees’ anxiety, build rapport, and facilitate trust and safety in supervision.  
·      The effectiveness of self-disclosure depends of the level of appropriateness (i.e. relevance, timing, content) of the self-disclosure.
·      The quality of the supervisory relationship and the strength of the alliance determine the amount self-disclosures and “risks” supervisees are willing to make in supervision (Knox, et al. 2008; Mehr, Ladany, & Caskie, 2010). 
·      The purpose of using self-disclosure in supervision is to help cultivate quality supervisory relationships and enhance the working alliance. 
·      The goal is to increase supervisees’ willingness to self-disclose in supervision, because supervision without supervisee disclosure limits growth and clinical skill development (Hess et al., 2008; Knox et al., 2008).
·      The significance to supervisors is that supervisee non-disclosures in supervision not only hinder supervisee growth and clinical skill development, but also limit the supervisee’s ability to work effectively with clients (Hess et al., 2008; Yourman, 2003).
Supervision Practice:
Supervision Requirements:
·      The supervision process includes factors that are representative in all supervision sessions, including supervision evaluations, turning in clinical tapes, and the hierarchical relationship. 
·      Evaluations can be intimidating and anxiety provoking for supervisees, increasing fear related to supervisee counseling competencies, clinical skills, and imposture syndrome; determining supervisee’s willingness to show tapes, and impacting the depth and breadth of supervisee self-disclosures.
·      It is crucial for supervisors to be open about the supervisory relationship, and the evaluation process to help ease supervisee anxiety and increase supervisee disclosure.
·      It is the supervisor’s responsibility to create safety in supervision. 
·      Safety is enhanced when the supervisor models openness, a balance between structure and flexibility, and appropriate use of self-disclosure. 
·      Appropriate use of self-disclosure helps to normalize, validate, and show interest in and respect for supervisees’ experiences. 
·      It is imperative for supervisors to communicate both verbally and nonverbally their investment in and respect for supervisees, provide balanced feedback (i.e. constructive; not completely critical or complementary), and attend to their own nonverbals associated with disappointment or distractions in supervision.
·      It is encouraged for supervisors to have a discussion with their supervisees about how and why non-disclosure occurs in hopes of fostering a stronger supervisory bond and promoting supervisee disclosure in supervision.
·      Some common themes that arise in supervision that hinder supervisee disclosure are related to personal feelings of self-doubt, “imposture syndrome,” and perceptions of supervisor (e.g., critical, disappointment, lack of investment). 
·      Equally, supervisee nondisclosure is associated with supervisee feeling ashamed, frustrated, incompetent and defensive in supervision, stemming from supervisee perceptions of the supervisor as critical, not invested or respectful, and disappointed or disengaged in supervision (Yourman, 2003).
Major caveats:

Given the literature review, the important role the supervisor has in relation to supervisee disclosures is evident. Since self-disclosure is a subjective construct, it is difficult to empirically support the effects.  Further research is necessary to enhance findings.

Supervisory relationship, working alliance, and supervisor and supervisee self-disclosure

For further reading:

Hess, S., et al. (2008).  Predoctoral interns’ nondisclosure in supervision.  Psychotherapy
Research, 18, 400-411.
Knox, S., Burkard, A., Edwards, L., Smith, J., & Schlosser, L. (2008).  Supervisors’ reports of
the effects of supervisor self-disclosure on supervisees.  Psychotherapy Research, 18, 543-559.
Ladany, N., & Walker, J. (2003).  Supervisor self-disclosure: Balancing the uncontrollable
narcissist with the indomitable altruist.  Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59, 611-621.
Mehr, K., Ladany, N., & Caskie, G.  (2010).  Trainee nondisclosure in supervision: What are
they not telling you?  Counseling and Psychotherapy Research, 10, 103-113.
Yourman, D. (2003).  Trainee disclosure in psychotherapy supervision: The impact of shame. 
Psychology in Session, 59, 601-609.

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