Monday, January 7, 2013

Individual and Triadic and Group: Supervisee and Supervisor Perceptions of Each Modality


L. DiAnne Borders
Laura E. Welfare
Paige B. Greason
Derrick A. Paladino
A. Keith Mobley
Jose A. Villalba
Kelly L. Wester


Counselor Education & Supervision, December 2012, Volume 51(4), p281-925

What was the purpose of this research?

The purpose of this study was to understand both supervisors’ and supervisees’ perceived advantages and disadvantages of individual, triadic, and group supervision.

If applicable, who were the participants, and what were they asked to do?

Participants were doctoral and faculty supervisors and practicum supervisees who participated in individual, triadic, and group supervision sessions over the course of one semester. Thirty-one supervisees and 12 supervisors participated in interviews in which they provided feedback about their experiences in each modality, including advantages and disadvantages as well as suggested changes.

Major findings or points:

Both supervisors and supervisees described individual supervision sessions as deeper and more challenging than triadic or group supervision sessions. As a result, supervisees expressed feeling safer and more open in individual supervision sessions. Supervisors and supervisees expressed an interest in having more individual supervision sessions, especially at the beginning of the semester.

When asked about triadic supervision, participants generally contrasted it to group supervision. Supervisees reported appreciating the feedback in triadic supervision, saying it tended to be more in-depth, challenging, and personal than in group supervision, often because they felt safer and more comfortable with their peer than they did in the larger group setting. Additionally, supervisees gained considerable knowledge by observing their peers’ work in more depth and over time. Supervisors reported that it was helpful in triadic supervision that one peer would often enhance the supervisor’s feedback to the other peer. The major disadvantage of triadic supervision reported by all participants was limited time. Finally, both supervisors and supervisees mentioned peer mismatch as a challenge of triadic supervision. For example, peers may be at different skill levels or prefer different methods of receiving feedback. Supervisors must be able to manage these session dynamics while making sure each supervisee receives appropriate and needed feedback.

Group supervision was noted as providing multiple perspectives to supervisees, particularly in regard to theoretical orientations and counseling styles. Supervisees enjoyed the educational opportunities in group supervision to learn about particular counseling skills, interventions, or topics (e.g., grief and loss issues). A major disadvantage of group supervision was that the feedback tended to be more limited, less constructive, and less personal than feedback received in individual or triadic supervision.

Major caveats:

All participants were from one CACREP accredited counseling program. In addition, all supervisees were in their first semester providing counseling, and 9 of the 12 supervisors were new clinical supervisors (doctoral students). Although the researchers found that there are distinct advantages for each supervision modality, more effectiveness research is needed.

What does this research mean for counseling practice, settings, and/or training?

Supervisors will want to balance the number of individual, triadic, and group supervision sessions offered. Supervisees value personal, in-depth feedback and report getting more of this in individual and triadic sessions.

In triadic supervision, it is important for both supervisors and supervisees to prepare for their roles in this modality. Supervisors can provide a structure for feedback as well as a normalization of the ambiguity inherent in triadic supervision. Supervisors should plan to rely on their skills in group or couples counseling when facilitating triadic supervision in order to develop strong rapport and encourage constructive feedback between peers. Supervisors will likely want to allot 90 minutes for triadic sessions as time was consistently a concern among participants for this modality.